Page 1

Business Black Box

Quarter 2 • 2012

U.S. $5.95

350,000 rabid baseball fans are coming to downtown Greenville. Relax, not all at once.

Funny thing about the people of the Upstate. We always show up. Whether it’s to support a local sports team or whether it’s to help out those who need a hand in our community. This year, the Greenville Drive is partnering with local businesses to help our community grow stronger by donating goods and services to those who could truly benefit. And we’re doing this through our rallying cry of, “Let’s hit 350.” Let’s have 350,000 people come to Fluor Field this year. And let’s help our community become an even better place to live.

To learn more, visit us at

After Clemson’s Leadership Summit, I look at problems and challenges differently. I am more creative in solutions and look for the ‘next right answer’ when solving problems. I also understand that my coworkers have unique skills, and we are all ‘wired’ differently. I am now better able to identify those unique behaviors and utilize them for success. BRANDON HALL CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, VIS, LLC LEADERSHIP SUMMIT CLASS OF 2011

What leadership mark will you make ?

August 6–10 | $3995 Go to to hear from other attendees.



I S S U E . . .


Jerry Blassingame Unlocked

E is for education




BOX For more from Business Black Box visit




Beyond Hincapie

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

Moving the Upstate


Elevate your Game

Play where the air is refreshing, views are breathtaking, and Robert Trent Jones II designed greens are awaiting... Enjoy 18-holes of challenging championship golf surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains. While here, experience natural beauty, native culture and entertainment in the homeland of the Cherokee Indians.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino | 828-497-3000 Sponsored in part by Cherokee Preservation Foundation

Q2/2012 E V E R Y

I S S U E . . .



Launch: Hindsight 35

11 Questions: John Warner

10 13 15 21 52 82 90



Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

Trail Blazer: Todd Horne


Next Gen: Markeisha Nesbitt

36 T H I N K



For more from Business Black Box visit


25 34 39 48 57 66 77 80 89 93


What Matters: Heidi Aiken






Jordana Megonigal

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




Julie Godshall Brown Andy Coburn John DeWorken Scott Harkey Todd Korahais Evelyn Lugo Chad McMillan Jennifer Oladipo Charles Richardson Ravi Sastry Amy Skaggs Tony Snipes Alison Storm Geoff Wasserman Joe Waters Terry Weaver



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

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


DIRECTOR John Schulz


Business Black Box is a registered trademark of ShowCase Publishing 2012. Content may not be reproduced without written permission of Business Black Box. Excerpts may be reprinted, provided that credit is given to the author and to Business Black Box magazine.

Chad McMillan



Business Black Box (Vol.4, Issue 2) is published four times per year by ShowCase Publishing, 1200 Woodruff Rd. Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607; phone (864) 281-1323; fax (864) 281-1310.


Geoff Wasserman




Julie Acetta Shannon Harris Brooke Holder Charles Richardson Amy Smith


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


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

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

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







For complete bios on our advisory council visit


1 2 4 5


6 10

7 8 12



13 14 15




amy wood, anchor, wspa


10. jil littlejohn, executive director, ymca

chip felkel, ceo, the felkel group



tony snipes, business coach & entrepreneur

julie godshall-brown, president, godshall staffing



kimberly kent, principal, mg&c consulting, llc

andy coburn, attorney, wyche law firm


13. todd korahais, operating partner, keller williams realty

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


14. terry weaver, ceo, chief executive boards international

tiffany hughes, marketing director, hallelujah acres


15. sam patrick, ceo, patrick marketing & communications

michael bolick, president, lab 21


16. david barnett, president, pinnacle bank

greg hillman, upstate director, scra/sclaunch



john deworken, partner, sunnie & deworken

ravi sastry, vp of sales & marketing, immedion



bill west, managing partner, the atlantic partners



Just Chill Out


ow stressed are you right now? On a scale of one to 10?

Me? I get pretty stressed out. Life is just crazy. In businesses, we are finding that customers expect more now, for less.That naturally makes us all busier than we used to be. Add in family and other obligations, and there isn’t much room left to just…chill out.To breathe.To live and watch and grow and…think. Earlier this year I discovered something. A formula, per se, that helped me do just that. I had to force it then, and I REALLY have to force it at times where I’m too stressed to function, but I promise you, it works. Here’s how it goes: Remember that “on a scale of one to ten” question? Write down your number. If you’re super, never-been-so-stressed-in-my-life, put a 9 (not a 10, because you have to assume that it can always get worse). If you’re stressed at work but okay when you leave at the end of the day, maybe you’re just a 6. Judge yourself accordingly; no one is grading these at the end of the day. Underneath your “number,” add a list of three things you really like to do. Examples: go running; read; sit by the pool; go to the movies. Next to each item, write a plus sign. Don’t write anything else. Don’t. Not yet. Put the pen down and walk away. Now, the tricky part: This week, during the workweek, do each of those three things. At the end of the week, estimate how much stress that each actually relieved. How much better did you feel? How “worth it” was the time you spent doing something for you?

For more from Business Black Box visit

Give that a number, and NOW you can put it next to that plus sign you’ve been sitting on for a week. Here’s where it gets simple and a little crazy all at the same time: you know what helps you relieve stress and to what extent. (I know that working out gives me WAY better ideas than I have on weeks where I sit on the couch, so I give it a +2). When things get crazy, schedule time. It may be that your “sitting by the pool” offers you a chill factor of +3. If you’re super, super stressed, wouldn’t it help to sit by the pool twice that week, even if there’s a lot going on? “Oh,” you say,“but then the work just piles up and I’ll be even more stressed later.” Yeah, but you’re stressed now, and you can’t carry that burden forever. Eventually, you have to relieve the tension, and as with most things, it’s easier to maintain health and sanity than it is to have to completely repair it. Sometimes, even just moving outside for a while can give you a boost. It’s simple, but figure out what you really love to do and then schedule it in. Do something different. But most of all, make sure you’re making time for something that relieves stress, not adds to it.

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


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box




For more Layers of Thought visit


Production Hours


George and Rich Hincapie represent cycling well here in the Upstate —not just as a sport, but as a viable business, and model for economic development, as well. But the industry doesn’t end—or begin— with them. While they are instrumental to the Upstate’s cycling industry, it is a community of passionate individuals who has made the Upstate into one of the best places for both cyclists and cycling-related businesses, as well.

Individual Photographs Used


Photoshop Layers

The photo is simple, but it represents both sides of the cycling industry here in the Upstate. The sport, which so many love, and the businesses, which have grown, and continue to grow, the Upstate into a cycling haven beyond what any one—or two—people can represent.

original photo

highlights and shadows added

contrast filters applied third layer

final filter edits applied




Chad McMillan Chris Heuvel

Wayne Culpepper Fisheye Studios

Rich Hincapie George Hincapie



A recent report from the U.S. Election Project shows that typically, only 55 to 60 percent of eligible voters will cast a ballot in a presidential election. That number will drop to 40 percent for mid-term elections. In South Carolina, according to, hosted by the S.C. Election Commission, the following information came out of the 2010 general election:


Most likely to vote? Ages 35-64. Least likely? Ages 18-21.


Across South Carolina, “white” voters are three times more likely to vote than “non-white” voters.


Female voters are more likely (but only slightly so) to vote than their male counterparts.


Give A Little Tired of wondering how our young citizens will learn business acumen and life skills in a curriculum that is constantly challenged with more and more information? Well, here’s an opportunity to take matters into your own hands—Junior Achievement, a group focused helping students aged five to 18 become empowered to “own their own economic success” —needs volunteers to finish out the 2011-2012 school year. Last year, 383 classes taught 8,265 students on topics like money and business—this year, the goal increased to 440 classes, and the JA is in need of help from business leaders to volunteer for those classes.

For more information on how you can help, call Lynda Apple at (864) 244-4017 or email Further information on classes and current needs can also be found at volunteer/current-volunteer-needs. For more from Business Black Box visit



Wonder who is actually putting the next politician in office? Dig a little deeper at under “Voting History.”

Business opportunities are like buses—there’s always another one coming. STEVE JOBS

Only 55-60%

of eligible voters will cast a ballot for the next president


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box





Between the Lines



WHAT: InnoVenture WHERE: TD Convention Center, Greenville WHEN: May 8-9, 2012 The InnoVenture 2012 Conference in Greenville, SC will discover new business opportunities and help them develop by connecting with customers, capital, talent and technology. Those attending will benefit from discovering opportunities they would otherwise not see, connecting with influential people who can be referral sources, and learning from a smart community of people. The conference agenda is organized as “conversations” composed of a series of brief presentations of high impact opportunities seeking connections from the audience followed by conversation cafes including audience participation.

FOR MORE INFO: Jessica Moss at, or visit

What we read: Switch: How to Change Things

For more from Business Black Box visit

When Change is Hard, by Chip & Dan Heath

The Gist: Two parts of our brains—the rational and the emotional—are in constant conflict. With this constant turmoil, change — true change—is difficult to accomplish. This book promises to help us unite those two halves of our brains to be able to create and sustain meaningful changes, in life and in business. How it’s Written: Stories. More stories. So many

stories and useable examples. Chapters are further broken down into digestible chunks—many of which hold truths all by themselves.

Great if: You constantly feel like you’re failing. What

it really means is that your rational and emotional brains are fighting, but until you can figure out why, you feel like a loser on all fronts.

Don’t miss: Chapter 9 – Building Habits. If you think you feel like you’re up against the world, this chapter will set you straight.

Our Read: For fans of the Heath brothers’ last book, Made to Stick, this book does not disappoint. 16

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


WHAT: Diversity CONNECTIONS WHERE: City Range, Spartanburg WHEN: June 13, 2012, 12 p.m. Held the second Wednesday of every month, Diversity Connections luncheon is sponsored by the Spartanburg Chamber’s Diversity Committee. Each luncheon features a guest speaker on a variety of different topics aimed at educating professionals and provides an opportunity for networking in a relaxed luncheon setting. In June, our speaker will be Richard Letchworth from Wells Fargo. There is no fee to attend.

FOR MORE INFO: Jessica Riddle at (864) 594-5062 or via email:





Anderson County Today

By the Numbers

213,768 213,7 213,76 8 Total number of housing units across South Carolina

84% Percentage of those units that are occupied Increase of units from 2000-2010







A great way to find out more about Anderson County—including events, businesses, site information, and industry focuses in energy, automotive, biosciences, and more.

*Based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2010.

1 IN 651 Homes in South Carolina received a foreclosure filing in January 2012

For more from Business Black Box visit

No enterprise can exist for itself alone. It ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others...or failing therein, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist.



Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

365 Homes in Greenville County are in foreclosure* (as of January 2012)

136 Homes in Spartanburg County are in foreclosure* (as of January 2012)

160 Homes in Anderson County are in foreclosure* (as of January 2012) * Based on information from


HINDSIGHT 35 DIGITAL BICYCLE REARVIEW MIRROR manufactured by cerevellum mauldin, sc

for more visit

From S.C. to the World



S.C. Tax Reform: Could it, Would it, Should it happen?

For more from Business Black Box visit

Tax Reform is a tricky subject—how do you provide incentives to pull businesses to the state while not hurting those already here? How likely do you feel is true Tax Reform for the state of South Carolina, and what would it look like if it were truly business-friendly?


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


A cool tax credit would woo other BMWs to come here vs. another state or country as well. Imagine if we had 100 true majors in our state with this tax credit. Unemployment would be near zero percent.”

David Pence

CEO, Acumen IT

“It’s obvious that low taxes attract business or South Carolina wouldn’t be competing with other states to create attractive tax abatement packages to bring in new investment. The problem with targeted tax incentive deals, however, is that it puts the government in the business of picking winners and losers with the people’s money and creates a process ripe for gain through political influence.

Personally, I am not in favor for additional special incentive plans that might further complicate an already challenging to navigate state tax code, but would rather see South Carolina lower the existing tax rates so we are merely on a level playing field with other states. Many people may not realize that the baseline state tax rate structures are part of the initial qualification discussions for corporate expansions or HQ relocations. South Carolina may never get a chance to offer special incentives to counter-act our existing tax structure to be more competitive against another state, as many times we will be disqualified in the first round review and will never get the opportunity to present these options. You immediately get crossed for new off the list with no further discussion.”

“Incentives companies looking to relocate to S.C. shouldn’t have a negative impact on existing companies, unless taxes on existing business are raised to support these incentives.”

There is a proven and substantial benefit to bringing in large, high-impact business like Michelin, BMW or Boeing who create entire industries in our state and we should continue this effort. However, our primary goal in tax reform should be to create a low tax/ low regulation environment where all business can grow together on a level playing field.”

David Setzer

“Our industry (aerospace manufacturing) is extremely capital equipment intensive, while also involving much higher wage labor than found in typical consumer product industries. Property taxes, unemployment taxes, state income taxes and other costs are definitely a considerable factor in determining feasibility for future expansions and job creation.

CEO, Virtual Connect Technologies

Jason Premo

CEO, ADEX Machining Technologies

“Incentives for new companies looking to relocate to S.C. shouldn’t have a negative impact on existing companies…unless taxes on existing business are raised to support these incentives. The reality is that, when we pull new businesses into the state, many existing businesses will receive economic benefits by being part of the supply chain or by being a services provider. However, while necessary, my major concern with incentive packages is that the government is picking the winners and losers. To better equip South Carolina to compete with other states, I would challenge to the South Carolina state government to compete more based on low or zero tax rates and a business friendly climate as opposed to hand selected incentive packages. Both are needed, but the former is certainly a more even-handed approach.”

Andrew Kurtz

President & CEO, Vigilix

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

“Major businesses like Boeing, BMW, Michelin, and GE have employees here in S.C., but the key is that they all use lots of Tier 1, 2, and 3 suppliers. The jobs at these suppliers outnumber the jobs at the majors by 100 to 1. If BMW, for instance, were to get a credit if 75 percent, or if some threshold of their supplied parts for a BMW came from in-state suppliers, then you would see BMW encouraging their suppliers to get in-state. This would move 100x the jobs to S.C. versus other plans.



at Furman University

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

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




n informe recientemente pubicado por el Pew Hispanic Research Center revela que el porciento de hispanos matriculados en la universidad ha aumentado dramáticamente en el 2010. Según los datos, la matrícula en instituciones de educación superior aumentó un 24% en comparación con 2009, una tasa mayor que cualquier otro grupo minoritario en el país.

Si bien los hispanos no son el grupo minoritario más grande que asiste a las universidades, la tasa de crecimiento en la inscripción en instituciones de educación superior sugiere que pronto podría tomar el primer lugar, cuando la matrícula de otros grupos de minorías parece estar disminuyendo. La historia detrás de los números, sin embargo, es lo que nos debe hacer tomar una pausa y aprender de esta próspera comunidad de jóvenes estudiantes. Detrás de estos estudiantes están las fuerzas que los obligan a alcanzar los objetivos que una vez pensaron inalcanzable.


En primer lugar y probablemente más importante para ellos es la familia. En la cultura hispana, el enfasis está en la unidad familiar, el cual crea un ambiente de apoyo, y hasta prodriamos decir que se convierte en un reto cuando de educación se trata. El hecho es que no muchos de nuestros hispanos

LOS HISPANOS Y LA EDUCACION de primera generación tenían un camino viable para alcanzar una educación superior, pero sus hijos tienen un conjunto completamente diferente de oportunidades. Esta nueva generación de estudiantes hispanos es muy consciente de la amplia gama de oportunidades que les esperan después de alcanzar una educación superior. En segundo lugar, el espíritu empresarial que está arraigada en la cultura hispana sirve como un factor de motivación para los estudiantes hispanos para ingresar a la universidad. La capacidad de un jóven estudiante hispano que se enfrenta a retos complejos le permite al estudiante conseguir logros más allá de sus sueños. Nuestro trabajo como líderes empresariales y mentores debe ser el motivar a estos jóvenes estudiantes a perseverar en sus actividades académicas y cumplir con los requisitos que sin duda le abrirán muchas puertas en el futuro para el beneficio de nuestra economía.

For more on this topic visit

About the author...

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

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box



e was five years old, sitting in the front room, watching TV with his four siblings and grandparents, when it happened.

He sneaked back to the back room where his mother fought loudly with her boyfriend. Ever so quietly he peeked through the keyhole to make sure his mom was okay. But his slight bump against the door notified them of his presence. “You better leave before you see something you don’t want to see,” the man shouted at him. So purposefully, the boy moved back to the living room, where he sat back down with the rest of his family. Until the shots rang out. Two shots. For those five small children, everything had changed before they could even make it to the front door.

There were so many things that Jerry Blassingame didn’t know that night, as he ran out the door—a small five-year-old boy racing for the neighbor’s house. He didn’t know his mother was dead, or that his grandfather, who had gone back to check on her, would be shot as well. He didn’t know that burying her in a random South Carolina snowstorm would give him an aversion to wintery weather.

For more from Business Black Box visit

He didn’t know that the scars he kept from that night would put him on a road that would end in prison.

“There is a scripture in Proverbs that talks about kids being like arrows in the hands of a warrior,” he notes.

“When I think about that, a father takes a child…and he ‘shoots’ him in the right direction. Some kids are shot in the wrong direction. I look at my life, and I was never ‘shot’ at all.” Instead, he says, he found his life “shaped” by not having parents at all.

And he certainly didn’t know that he would—eventually—become a fighter for human rights and economic development—starting in the very neighborhood in which he last saw his mother alive.

“I had a lot of holes in my childhood,” he remembers. “Everything I learned I learned it on my own. I learned it in the streets. I learned it from my friends.”


But that “everything” wasn’t always positive. He was only nine when he discovered pornography; around that same age, he began drinking and getting high, taking a note from his older brothers and sisters.

Growing up from that point was difficult. Living with their grandparents, the children struggled to live in a small apartment in a low-income neighborhood on the small disability check that their grandfather (who survived, after being shot in the eye) brought in. When there was no food, “sometimes, we used to have sleep for dinner,” he remembers with a faint smile. “But school was my escape; I remember loving to go to school because I wanted to escape poverty.” From that point on, learning was ingrained in him, and he spent every opportunity reading or working on schoolwork. But although he was smart, and inquisitive, and surrounded by family, the loss of his mother and absence of his father dug deep within him.


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

Still, he was able to keep his head on straight, and maintained his grades at school. He was smart enough to get a two-year scholarship in engineering to Greenville Tech, and planned, after two years, to transfer into Clemson. But his first year in college, he needed money, and he turned back to the life he was so familiar with. It was easy; his friends from his neighborhood would pay him $100 a day to keep an eye out for police or simply bag up drugs.While at first it may have seemed harmless, it marked the beginning of his fall, and he dropped out of college in his second year, getting arrested for the first time and doing four months in jail with five years probation. But even after getting out, there was no “wake up call” for Blassingame. In fact, he fell even further into the career that would undo him.

“After that I really got off deep into the streets. I never went back to school, and that’s when I started a 10-year run using and selling drugs,” he says. “I would sniff cocaine everyday and smoke marijuana everyday. If I didn’t have my own product I would have to buy it. “And then, I got busted again.” This time, the punishment—a 20-year sentence—was far more severe. But while in jail awaiting his final sentence, he began to talk to a preacher. That talk, which Blassingame tells as his redemption story, changed his perspective forever. He began to think about teaching others, and about how to keep bettering himself. After sentencing, Blassingame found himself in prison in McCormick, S.C. And on his first day, he ran into someone he knew. “Prison is scary. I cried the first three days,” he says. “Then, the first guy I ran into in the yard was a guy that some of my friends had robbed for drugs. He told me he would kill me if he ever caught me in the yard alone.” Still, he noted that prison offers structure for those who never had any, and his positive outlook opened his eyes to the possibilities that surrounded him in his cold, dark cell.


For more from Business Black Box visit

While in prison, Blassingame’s desire to learn never faded, and his passion to teach only grew stronger. “I was real concerned about some of the people who were in prison and why they were there,” he says. “I kept thinking, ‘Why are all these young guys coming to prison?’ So I would talk to them and they would tell me they couldn’t find a job, they couldn’t finding housing, nobody would let them live with them, and they had to go back to crime to make a living.” It was at that point that Blassingame first had the idea of a new ministry—one that would speak to the ex-prisoners, teach them life skills and help them rebuild themselves and their communities. Understanding the troubles that faced the men and women when they were released from prison—and many times, what got them there in the first place—Blassingame saw himself as a prime candidate to help change the patterns. Then, Stephanie came into the picture. They had known each other growing up, but that day, as she came to visit, along with his brother, she immediately noticed something was different. “You’ve changed,” she told him. The two began to write—“date,” as Blassingame laughingly calls it—and soon found themselves entwined in each other, as well as a program that would help break the patterns that kept so many young men in prison. Soon, Blassingame was moved to Abbeville to continue his sentence—something he had desired for a long time, to be closer to his home in the Upstate. 30

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

But although they were in love, and now closer than ever, the S.C. Department of Corrections didn’t allow for inmates to get married. With just over two years of his 20-year sentence served, it seemed like an eternity for the couple, until they found out that they could appeal to the county for a marriage. After calls to the county councilman, they were approved to get married. And not only approved, but were allowed to have guests, a tuxedo, photos and a full reception—something far from what would typically be allowed an inmate. Blassingame’s humility and changed attitude had been noticed by far more than just Stephanie. In fact, not long after, Blassingame found himself in a very different situation—up before the parole board, after only three and a half years of his sentence. On January 23, 1999, he was paroled, with eleven years of probation. He was free, and the first order of business was to start the non-profit that he had put so much into already, behind prison walls. “When I got out, I had already written the bylaws,” he says. “I gave it to Stephanie and she typed everything up. We started a non-profit and we were incorporated in June of 1999.” They named the organization Soteria—the Greek word for salvation, defined as deliverance, preservation, and safety.

Out of prison and living out his passion, Blassingame returned to his roots for ideas. A return to the street his mother was murdered on—Vance Street—provided the vision. “One day I came to a stop sign at the dead end of Vance Street and it was all dilapidated; there were boarded up houses, crack houses….and I thought, ‘I would love to have this street to rebuild,’” he says. Two weeks later, a lady came into the Soteria offices and offered up the deeds to nine houses—a whole street—that needed to be rebuilt. As Blassingame rode with the woman to see the property that she wanted to donate, he realized something that would bring his whole world full-circle: the houses were on South Vance Street. “The world stopped for me that day…I was so happy,” he remembers. “[The woman] probably thought I was crazy because I was happy, but I saw the vision. I saw the houses fixed up. I saw kids on bicycles and kids playing basketball, but she saw a dilapidated neighborhood that she just wanted to get out of.” So Blassingame began to revitalize the area, rebuilding two of the houses and building six others.

It was the beginnings of what is now (more formally) called Soteria Community Development Corporation, with the vision to rebuild older, many times low-income neighborhoods, from the inside out—houses, businesses, people and all. But the challenges weren’t over yet. Five years after his release, and well into the development of Soteria, Blassingame was found in violation of his parole, due to his formation of the non-profit. With 12 men in the year-long program at that time, and the program already becoming well-known, it was a blow that Blassingame couldn’t take. Ever the learner, he began to research his situation, and found that after five years on parole, anyone can apply for a full pardon. “Everything I had worked for for the last six years was just on hold,” he says.“So, I applied for a pardon. It took them six months to approve it, but I was pardoned in 2005, from every charge.” Now safe from his prior record (although they were not expunged, as pardons do not forgive the sentence, they simply release it), Blassingame could focus on Soteria fully, building it into an economic powerhouse for low-income communities. He began to add pieces on to the men’s year-long program on re-entry, adding classes for first-time homebuyers, transitional housing, downpayment assistance, and entrepreneurship classes. And as the economy dipped further and further downward, leaving even those with money and jobs scrambling for their livelihood, Blassingame realized he’d have to prove himself an entrepreneur, as well.

For more from Business Black Box visit

“Grants and the funding streams are drying up, so in order for non-profits to sustain themselves, they have got to become more entrepreneurial.” As an example, three years ago, Soteria started a recycling business that served local schools. Today, 61 schools are part of the program that employs three people full-time. The move provided money and jobs where there were none—a solid move for a relatively new non-profit who was fighting for funding along with everyone else. “When we first started it, there wasn’t anything for prison reentry,” Blassingame says of their beginnings. “I didn’t know anything about community development corporations back then but I learned…community development corporations are non-profits that help low-moderate income individuals become owners—homeowners and business owners—to give them a better way of life.We don’t go into communities and try to change communities; our goal is to go into communities and empower the people to become owners and leaders in their communities. By taking men who are getting out of prison and empowering them to go back and rebuild their own communities, Soteria is not only giving the men a reason to stay out of prison, but also building businesses that can further sustain the neighborhoods 32

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

they are in. Sometimes it all starts with simple lessons—personal money management and budgeting—but learning these tasks is sometimes the gateway to changing a life. “First thing I teach my guys when they get out of prison is about money management and financial literacy, because most of these guys are locked up are in there because of some drugrelated or money transaction,” Blassingame notes. “And most of the time they create a crime for money, and if they would work and manage their money right, they wouldn’t be there.” With these tools in place, there is then the opportunity to discuss entrepreneurism with these men—many who will never be hired anywhere else—but who can run the businesses to sustain neighborhoods, like mechanics, repairmen, or landscapers. For Blassingame, it’s a chance not just to create houses for people, but to offer them the one thing many of them have lived without—true community. “We are doing a lot of low-income housing in the communities, but we’re not doing a lot of economic development,” he notes, of many outlying neighborhoods that skirt the cities. (He also notes a lack of even a a grocery or drug store on the West Side of downtown, noting that the closest are in downtown Greenville itself. “No businesses are [in those neighborhoods], so we have to create jobs. With guys who are getting out of prison that are low on the totem pole, we’re at the best place to create our own economic development in our own neighborhoods.”


Now, as a father of six children, aged 24 to six, and building a new office in the Poe Mill community in West Greenville, Blassingame realizes his job is now “to work myself out of a job.” He’s a success story from an area with limited successes—at least, until now. “When I talk about success, I talk about it in a very different way,” he says of the program, noting that not many will finish the year-long re-entry program (it’s too strict; “too much like prison for some of them”) but instead go back to school or start their own jobs. Still with only 15 to 20 percent of the men he tries to help through Soteria returning to prison, it’s a fact that Blassingame is doing something right, and a testament to the opportunities that can be found in our community—even in those who have run off-track. For him, that is the true mission—to offer opportunities that can change lives. “People look at us and say we’ll never change. But given the right opportunities, we can.”



ou are living the American Dream.You have built a successful company.You make a great income, have paid for the vacation home and college for the kids and give generously to charities.

Unfortunately, there will come a day when you are not around anymore. If you do not plan for it, your dream business may turn into a nightmare for those you leave behind.


There are many issues related to business succession planning, but here are four that should be at the top of your list: 1. It really was all about you. Perhaps the most challenging business succession problem is when the owner/founder is not replaceable. They are the only one who can run the business—who know the technology, have the customer contacts, have the industry knowledge, etc. If this is the situation when the owner/founder dies or becomes unable to work, you may or may not be able to find and hire a replacement in time to keep the business alive. In too many cases, the business has to be sold for a fire sale price, or no buyer can be found before the business simply goes under.


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


2. New owners who can’t manage. The classic situation here is the family business inherited by children, where the children are not competent to run the business and the managers who are competent to run the business have no ownership in the company. It’s nice to have someone who can run the business, but negotiations between the new owners and the managers can be very difficult. Frequently, the managers were not being (or think that they were not being) compensated at fair market value. They were content as long as the founder was around due to their personal relationship with, and respect for, the founder, but they are not so content once the founder is gone. Some managers will seek better than fair market compensation, using their importance to the company as leverage. 3. Plan B – Preparing for a sale of the company. If the company is not prepared for business succession, the company may have to be sold. If the company is not prepared for a sale, the value of the business is likely to steadily deteriorate while the new owners look for a buyer. One typical problem is that the company may generate good cash flow to sustain the founder’s lifestyle, but it may not be growing or have any significant growth prospects that would make it generally attractive to buyers. In that case, the new owners may find an industry buyer willing to pay a decent price, but they will often have to sell at a much lower value than expected, assuming they can find a buyer at all. 4. Great expectations. The family business is a classic setting for the tragedy of unrealistic expectations. The children who inherit the business think that they are entitled to exactly the wealth and lifestyle the founder had. In the worst cases, they can’t even acknowledge the most basic flaws in their assumptions—if the business is inherited by more than one child, by definition they will receive 50 percent or less of what the founder had. The new owners may also be offended if the key managers ask for more compensation or ownership in the company, even if the managers’ requests are reasonable. And if the company must be sold but is not ready for sale, the children may refuse to understand that the value of the company is much less than they assumed. Unrealistic expectations can be powerful enough to destroy companies that otherwise should be able to continue operations or at least be sold at a decent price.

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

For more on this topic visit

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


Our NEW website is here. Experience Business Black Box wherever you are. Now optimized for any platform or mobile device, offers news updates, blogs and digital editions of all our magazines for FREE. You’re welcome!



For more from Business Black Box visit


Sometimes, leaders don’t grow up in the community they will lead. Rather, they find a community they feel they were born to lead.

Photo by Wayne Studios Black Box Q2 2012 // Business 36 Culpepper/FishEye


TRAILBLAZER. Born and raised in Greenville, Todd Horne grew up watching his city grow at amazing rates. Upon graduating from Wade Hampton High School, Horne attended USC Upstate in Spartanburg. But while he graduated with his degree in Communications in 2005, working with companies like Greenville Office Supply until he eventually joined Clayton Construction Company in 2009, it was the city of Spartanburg that would determine his passions for leadership in a city that aspired to grow. After being in the Spartanburg community and settling down with his wife, Stephanie, Horne developed a vision for what Spartanburg could become. Growing up in Greenville and seeing the city grow culturally and economically in what seemed overnight, Horne wanted to take that same concept and apply it to Spartanburg. “I thought, why not us? Why not Spartanburg? There’s just so much potential here,” said Horne. So he immediately threw himself into the community, volunteering his time with Rotary as president and receiving Spartanburg’s chamber of commerce volunteer of the year award in 2010. He then went on to be a part of the Chamber Board in 2012— but it was his position as Chairman of Spartanburg’s Young Professionals that gave him the focus he maintains today. “The Young Professionals group was seen as a group that just socialized,” he says. “I wanted to change that image.”

And change, they have. Currently, the Young Professionals group is planning a Town Hall meeting, inviting current leaders in for a visionary session of where Spartanburg will be in the next five, 10, and 15 years. “It’s time for people to start walking the walk, as well as talk the talk,” Horne reiterated. Horne also points out the need to retain the workforce in Spartanburg—

“We have to make Spartanburg a place that appeals for people to live.” especially among the younger generations coming out of Spartanburg’s universities and colleges. “We have made the investment as a community in these fine individuals, and to retain them, we have to make Spartanburg a place that appeals for people to live.” Today, the Spartanburg Young Professionals group is currently up to 110 members and 18 board members, with only two of those board members being (originally) from Spartanburg. However, to Horne, this is a step in the right direction.

“This is a movement of younger people to the Spartanburg area, we are on the right track to not only retaining our workforce, but growing it,” Horne mentioned. To continue this recruitment of young professionals to Spartanburg, Horne is promoting the Spartanburg Young Professional’s Lunch and Learn and First Thursday Networking Events. The Lunch and Learn is an event put on by the club and involves sharing a lunch at a local company, followed by a presentation by Spartanburg Young Professionals on what they stand for and information about the organization. “They have just been a great way for us to meet the community,” Horne said. First Thursday Networking Events are also an opportunity used by the organization to promote being a young professional in Spartanburg. The events are held at restaurants all over Spartanburg, and have been extremely beneficial to the club. “Keeping the events in Spartanburg is extremely important to the process of rebuilding Spartanburg, when we use local restaurants, we help each other out.” Spartanburg Young Professionals also is looking into holding multiple other events throughout the year involving the BMW Pro-AM at Carolina Country Club and an Oyster Roast later on. But for Horne, he sees his role in the effort of rebuilding Spartanburg as to lead the efforts in casting a vision, actually doing something, and asking the community the tough questions. “What do we need to do as a community? I think that’s what we should be asking ourselves.”

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

By Scott Harkey

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Tell the world who you are and what you do. Your company. Your brand. Your message. The time is now.

MARKETING | PUBLIC RELATIONS | STRATEGIC PLANNING 200 East Camperdown Way | Greenville, SC 29601 | 864.232.2302 |



.S. companies currently have more job openings posted than in the past three years. For years I have advised our clients that businesses are always in competition for top talent, regardless of economic conditions.When candidates are considering multiple opportunities, it is more important than ever for employers to recognize the need to sell their organization to potential candidates. In my 19 years of experience in recruiting and hiring top talent for my organization and our clients, candidates often report these negative observations when making a decision on a new employer:


Lack of organization in the hiring process. Make sure that the position is clearly defined, determine the essential requirements, outline a consistent process to use for screening candidates, and agree on a timeline. Regardless of the process your organization chooses to use, it is important to organize the steps before getting started. The hiring process is the organization’s opportunity for a positive first impression on top talent. Interviews that include inappropriate questions. Often questions about family, plans for children or proprietary information from their current/past employer come up during an interview.

MISTAKES DURING THE HIRING PROCESS CAN COST YOU TOP TALENT These questions create an awkward situation for the candidate—do they refuse to answer or do they share personal or unethical information? Train interviewers in basic interview skills including points to avoid protected classes (age, gender, race, national origin, religion). Indecisiveness. When a candidate experiences long communication lags between interviews, it can leave the impression that the company is uninterested or indecisive. Whether you choose to hire the candidate or not, top talent knows top talent. Your organization needs to maintain a positive reputation in the market. “Low ball” offers. Early in the process, it is important to find out the candidate’s current compensation. Only in the rarest of circumstances should a firm offer someone less than their current salary. Yes, benefits and perks factor into the equation; however, most individuals expect to be offered a new position with at least a comparable salary. For those who have been recruited due to their market knowledge, they will expect a 10 to 20 percent increase to consider a move. Once a company makes an unreasonable offer, it is difficult to overcome the feeling of being undervalued even with negotiation that results in a higher offer. Involving the wrong people in the hiring process. Logically, we might choose to include an incumbent in the interview process due to their knowledge of the position and frankly, their desire to be a part of the decision. Unless the incumbent is being promoted or happily retiring after many loyal years of service, the benefits may not outweigh the cost. I could write a book to share examples including the underperforming incumbent who shares that the company has “impossible expectations” and the short term fill in who wants the job and attempts to eliminate the competition with negativity. I once knew a protective office manager who knew that “no one can do as well for my boss as well as I did” and proceeded to convince some excellent candidates of the fact!

About the author...

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 IT markets. Julie has been in the human resources field for 19 years and is very involved in the Upstate community, currently serving in leadership roles on several business, civic, and university boards.

With a little preparation, both candidates and employers can put their best foot forward during the interview process. The competitive market for top talent is here to stay.

For more on this topic visit

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


elly Yanity and her husband bought their Mauldin home a decade ago, based on the test scores of nearby schools. But when it came time for Yanity’s oldest child to move from elementary school to middle school, she did what many parents do— she panicked. “We looked at private schools,” admits Yanity. “We wanted to keep our options open.” Looking back on that moment of fear more than four years ago, Yanity is thrilled with her decision to keep her children in public school. “The middle school we were zoned for has been fabulous,” says the Greenville County mom of two. “We’ve been completely happy with our public schools.” Yanity is no stranger to the naysayers and negativity surrounding the state’s reputation on education. Serving as District Greenville County Parent-Teacher Association President, she stays well informed about what’s happening in the area, receiving regular briefs from state legislators and leaders. While certain benchmarks list South Carolina among the worst states for education, Yanity focuses on what her children’s schools are doing well. “My daughter’s high school has the most [Advanced Placement] classes offered and the most kids passing them,” she says. “My son’s middle school band has close to 450 kids in it, which is the largest band in the state.” And while individually many schools seem to be shining examples of what’s right in education, South Carolina—as a whole—is often cited as an example of what’s wrong. The state’s 49th position in SAT scores and independent reports that show graduation rates at 55 percent are two stains on the system. On the positive side, South Carolina ranks 21st in the nation for students scoring proficient on an A.P. Exam and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce listed South Carolina 17th in the nation for educational innovation.

“You have a lot of good opportunities. Unfortunately a lot of those things are overshadowed by a reputation that South Carolina doesn’t have good public education,” says Ansel Sanders, Program Director at AJ Whittenberg Elementary. “I’m not saying we’re perfect. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”


Among the most hotly debated benchmarks are high school graduation rates. According to the Washington, D.C.-based national policy and advocacy organization Alliance for Excellent Education, more than 30,000 students did not graduate from South Carolina’s high schools in 2010—equalling lost lifetime earnings for that class of dropouts of more than $7.8 billion. The organization also reports that South Carolina could save as much as $320 million in lifetime health care costs if each class of dropouts earned their degrees. How many students are dropping out? That depends on which report you believe. According to the Educational Research Center, graduation rates in South Carolina for the class of 2007 were just 55 percent. But the National Center for Education Statistics reported graduation rates for that same year at 59 percent. At the same time, Jay W. Ragley from the office of the South Carolina Department of Education says for more than a decade the state has used the Cohort Formula to calculate graduation rates. The Cohort graduation rate is calculated by tracking individual students from ninth grade for four years until they receive their regular diploma. With other methods, graduation rates are calculated by using just one year of data to derive a four-year estimated rate. (Starting this school year all states will use this same method.) According to the Cohort Formula, South Carolina’s graduation rate for the 2010-11 school year was 73.6 percent, up from 72.1 percent the year before and down from its peak of 78 percent in 2003. Scott Turner, Superintendent of Spartanburg District 5 puts the current number at nearly 78 percent. “Our schools are doing as well and better than most schools nationally,” he says. Danny Merck, Assistant Superintendent for Administration with the Pickens County School District and

For more from Business Black Box visit

“Change in public education in South Carolina occurs when people work as a team.”


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box




One way many states track how they compare to other parts of the country is by analyzing students’ SAT scores. The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test that colleges use to assess applicants’ knowledge of reading, writing and math. According to a 2011 list of mean SAT scores by state issued by the College Board, South Carolina ranks 49th in the nation. The state average combined SAT score is 1436, nearly 400 points lower than number one ranked Illinois and 64 points lower than the national average of 1500. South Carolina also lags behind North Carolina, which ranks 39th and Georgia which ranks 48th. But many state leaders say the SAT rankings are not that surprising when you consider how many students take the test. In 2011, 70 percent of South Carolina high school seniors took the SAT. In comparison, just five percent of Illinois’


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

For more from Business Black Box visit

member of the Education Oversight Committee, believes the state’s graduation rate is at 73 percent. John Warner, founder of InnoVenture and also a member of the state’s Education Oversight Committee admits the story seems to shift, depending on the data you believe. “I think anybody that tells you where South Carolina stands concretely is not telling you the truth,” he says. Comparatively, data from the National Center for Education Statistics puts national graduation rates at 75.5 percent. According to statistics released in 2011, the rate ranged from 56.3 percent in Nevada, to 90.7 percent in Wisconsin.Wyoming and Alabama had the lowest dropout rates at 1.1 and 1.5 percent. Dropout rates were highest in Arizona and Illinois with 8.3 and 11.5 percent, respectively. In light of those numbers, “we definitely need to improve the graduation rate,” says Merck. “Everyone understands that.” But Merck,Turner and others point out that South Carolina’s standards are high compared to other states, requiring high school seniors to earn 24 units before graduating. Plus, Turner says students who receive a GED or occupational diploma aren’t included in the statistic. “If you consider a kid who takes four and a half years [to complete high school], they don’t count as a graduation,” Turner explains. “If you count all of those groups we’re up to the mid-90s in terms of the [percentage] of kids who get a diploma or GED.”


For more from Business Black Box visit

top-rated high school seniors took the exam. Turner says the reason so many South Carolina seniors take the SAT is because of parental pressure. “I believe it’s a cultural issue,” he says. “[Parents] may not be familiar with the ACT, or understand that a student may not need to take the SAT to enter a community college or technical school. Our state does not place a lot of emphasis on SAT scores. It is highly publicized so students may feel a need to take it.” State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais says his position on college admission tests like the SAT and ACT differ from previous leaders in his position. “[Dr. Zais] does not place as heavy of emphasis on [SAT and ACT] tests as he does on graduation rates. Most students do not go to a four-year institution so it’s not a good measure for them,” says Ragley. “In high school there’s an attitude that every student should take pre-college curriculum. [Dr. Zais] wants [students] to take curriculum that matches their interests and goals.” Merck agrees the SAT is not a fair representation of how the state stacks up. “I think in South Carolina we dwell on the fact that our SAT scores are among the worst,” he says. A healthier comparison, he says, is with the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. “What you would draw from that is that South Carolina, from 1998 to 2011, has remained consistently between 35th and 42nd [in the nation],” he says. The NAEP is described as the largest national assessment of what American students know and can do in various subject areas. It’s a yardstick that tests a variety of subjects including math, reading, science and writing. “When you start looking at the other national comparisons then I think I could prove in a court that our state is somewhere between 35th and 40th in American education,” says Merck. “Is that great? No. Have there been improvements? Yes.” He points specifically to improvements in ACT scores, moving from 48th in the nation in 1998 to 42nd in the nation for ACT performance in 2011. “Change in public education in South Carolina occurs when people work as a team,” says Merck. “In Columbia, this means the governor, State Superintendent of Education, legislature, state school board, Chamber of Commerce, higher education, superintendents and [Education Oversight Committee] work together. In local districts, this means school boards, superintendents, local business, parents, and educators working together.”


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

In 2011, the average NAEP score for eighth-graders in the state was 260, four points lower than the 264-point average for public schools across the country. State education officials say more than a decade ago South Carolina’s NAEP performance was much higher than it is today. Superintendent Zais believes more emphasis needs to be placed on basics like writing, math and especially reading. He often cites Johns Hopkins research that found a child not reading on grade level by fourth grade is six times more likely to drop out of high school than someone who is reading on grade level by fourth grade. The most troubling results—and many leaders agree—are the students that test below basic levels in reading and math. For instance, in 2011, 39 percent of South Carolina fourth graders performed at below basic reading levels on NAEP tests, compared to 34 percent nationwide. Twenty-one percent of fourth graders tested at below basic levels for math, compared to 18 percent of students nationwide.

S C H O O L D I S T R I C T S A N D S P E N D I N G The public school system in South Carolina serves more than 700,000 students through more than 1,120 schools in 85 school districts. Spartanburg County has seven school districts serving 46,368 students and there are five districts in Anderson County, serving 30,863 students. Greenville County only includes one district—the 50th largest in the U.S., operating 50 elementary schools, 18 middle schools, 14 high schools and more than 25 special schools, programs and child development centers. More than 68,000 students attend those schools in an 800-square mile geographic area.That’s a high contrast to the McCormick School District in S.C., which lists enrollment at just 864 students spread across three schools. Some argue that small school districts don’t have the ability to offer high quality programs and activities like larger districts do. Many also have higher costs per pupil. For example, in Greenville County, $7,662 is spent per pupil while in McCormick County, spending is $5,000 higher per pupil at $12,686. Jackie Hicks serves as president of the South Carolina Education Association, a professional organization comprised of 12,000 teachers and education professionals. Hicks believes some smaller districts should consider joining with other

small districts so resources can be pooled. “That way you can have better choices for your students to participate in,” she explains. “But it’s a local decision. Whatever needs to be done to make sure our students have the very best education they can have.” Several small districts across the state have recently merged. Dillon County went from three school districts to two and three districts in Marion County are now operating as one, according to the Department of Education. Merck says some small districts are able to run very efficiently financially. “It’s a different story for every area and every district which makes it difficult to solve with one approach,” he says. “I don’t think that can be solved in Columbia.” But he does believe that some districts need to join with others in order to be more competitive. Still, South Carolina’s overall number of school districts is low compared to other states. According to the US Department of Education, Texas has the most school districts with 1,241, North Carolina has 212 and Georgia has 181. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina ranks 35th in the nation in terms of per-pupil public school spending. Data from 2008-09 shows an average of $10,719 is spent per public school student in South Carolina. Slightly less than half of that money comes from state sources, $1,028 from Federal sources and $4,574 from local sources. Roughly half of the money spent on each student, $5,330, is categorized as being spent on instruction and $3,841 is spent on salaries. Superintendent Zais has publicly taken a strong stance on spending. “Education spending has doubled in the last 40 years and yet we have not seen results because of it. More spending, more facilities and more curriculum will not solve our problems in education,” says Ragley. “We have tried that for 40 years and we have not seen results.” In the current fiscal year, school districts are required to spend at least 70 percent of their funding on instructional expenditures. Dr. Zais proposed increasing that to 75 percent for the next fiscal year and in the proposed budget for next

year, the House Ways and Means Committee has adopted this recommendation. “Dr. Zais has repeatedly said dollars should be used in a manner that produces the largest rate of return for the taxpayers, which is in the classroom,” says Ragley. “He believes schools spend too much on administration and on facilities.” It seems that in this case, Zais is right. Spending more per pupil may not be the answer for improving education if you consider some national test scores. As examples, Illinois ranked first in SAT scores, but comes in 19th in terms of spending per student. Utah is 17th for SAT test scores and dead last for spending per pupil. Warner believes it’s not about how much we’re spending, but more money needs to make a direct impact on the students. “Right now what we have is a large bureaucratic structure that absorbs a lot of money in bureaucracy and testing that never makes it to the students,” he says. But while many educators and administrators have dealt with budget cuts year after year, there may be a silver lining. Ninety-seven percent of South Carolina’s principals report having a major amount of influence over their school budgets, something that Superintendent Turner says hasn’t always been that way. “They’ve cut the money, but given us more flexibility with the money we get,” he says. “We do have flexibility to use the funds in a way we didn’t before.” And most experts agree a key to improving education in the state is by empowering those closest to the students to spend it where they see the most need. “If we took the amount of money we’re spending and put it on empowering parents, teachers and principals to do education differently, then we’ve ignited a revolution here,” says Warner. So while the road to ranking towards the top of nationwide education benchmarks may be long, Merck believes we’re on our way. “I would be cautious to say the sky is falling,” he says. “We’re certainly not at the top, but it’s not as bad as a lot of people think.”

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

“If we took the amount of money we’re spending and put it on empowering parents, teachers and principals to do education differently, then we’ve ignited a revolution here”



f the many growth strategies available, finding new customers for your products and services is an essential core competency. The key ingredient is lead generation— finding suspects who might have a need. There are lots of ways—networking, direct mail, telemarketing, advertising, industry events, speaking opportunities, referral sources, search engine optimization, social networking, door-to-door discovery calls—it’s a long list.


Then there’s the least favorite of most sales people—the dreaded cold call. It doesn’t have to be that way. Typical cold calling, where you just dial up someone who doesn’t know you on the phone, isn’t very rewarding or very effective. A new book, Predictable Revenue, by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, is the “how-to” guide to Cold Calling 2.0. What’s the secret? An intentional strategy to turn cold “suspects” into warm prospects; a way to introduce yourself and become familiar to the prospect, perhaps over several months, before you make that phone call. You know what? This works. I’ve been experimenting with Cold Calling 2.0 principles for several months, and it’s working for me. Here are the basics:


About the author...

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

1. Start with a List. There are lots of sources of inexpensive lists—, Hoovers, Dun & Bradstreet, OneSource, etc.You can slice and dice these lists by geography, business type, business size, contact title, etc., and then buy just the names you want. This is admittedly the weakest part of this strategy. From personal experience, I can tell you these lists are lousy (and that’s generous). If you’re in a vertical market where you can get lists from a trade association, that’s a great place to start. 2.Validate the List. Read the “Cold Calling 2.0” chapter. Put a three-to-four sentence email together that simply states who you’re looking for and why, then asks “Would you have an interest,” and “Are you the right person?”This is not a pitch, not an introduction—just a request for help or information. If you don’t have an email address or don’t know the prospect’s name for sure, call and ask whoever answers the phone.You’ll be surprised at how easy this is. Just ask. 3. Update the List. You’ll hear from a few that they have an interest. Those go into your CRM as new Prospects (upgraded from “Suspect”). Drop any who say they don’t—don’t bother them again. This is a numbers game. Just move on to the next one. 4. Drip Marketing. If you don’t have a monthly e-newsletter of ideas that are useful to prospects, create one ASAP. Start sending this to your updated list. The idea is to start a conversation, even if it’s electronic at first. 5. Re-Email Non-Responders. About every six to eight weeks, re-send your “Step 2” email to those who haven’t responded (haven’t said they are or aren’t interested). Remember, this is email, and lots of people will miss it on any given send. This is a numbers game, and you’re working the Law of Averages. This is just a thumbnail sketch on Cold Calling 2.0, and it includes some of my own experience as far as what works for me.Your mileage may vary.You may find ideas in the book that are different from mine, so try it both ways. Next month— “How to Improve Your Hit Ratio on Prospecting Phone Calls by Three to Four Times”


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

For more on this topic visit

Your processes aren’t working. Time for some paper training. BETTER SUSTAINABLE PROCESSES THROUGH BEHAVIOR CHANGE With over two decades of experience in Lean Transformation, Mark Tussey knows a thing or two about behavior and process change. Join him at this free seminar as he shares the amazing link between effective processes and behavior. CLEMSON AT THE FALLS, GREENVILLE SC

Free Seminar on Lean Transformation Tuesday, May 15, from 6 to 7 PM Seating is limited. Register now at or call (864) 656-2200

Learn more about Lean Transformation and what it can do for your organization at

For more from Business Black Box visit




Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

For more from Business Black Box visit


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box




t’s amazing how we can for struggle days, weeks, or even months in a relationship before we’re really willing to have that critical, high-risk discussion about an offense—an area where we feel we were wronged, about a behavior we feel is unacceptable but we don’t stop and confront it with love. Instead, we treat it like the leftovers at my house that seem to stay in the fridge way too long; we pull them out, look at them, can’t imagine eating them, and stick them right back in the fridge, somehow believing they’ll be more attractive in time, or they’ll magically get better.


The truth is, dysfunctional relationships are like leftovers; the more they sit and fester, the worse they get, and when they finally begin to stink (after being passed over for better options), they get thrown away and replaced. Life’s too short to approach business and personal relationships that way. As leaders, we owe it to those we lead to cultivate an environment that encourages “living without a net”; in other words, we have to be willing to walk the relationship high wire, take risky conversation walks with those we care about and those whom we’re assigned to lead, to quickly address frustrations and problems so everyone has the chance to be heard, understood, and restored.

JUST RIP THE BAND-AID My kids will fuss and whine when I suggest slowly peeling off a band-aid that’s been on so long that the underlying cut has already healed. As most parents know, most of the crying and emotional pain could be avoided simply by swiftly, quickly (and with love) “ripping the band aid” so the wound can be exposed to the air it now needs to finish healing. There’s a time to cover a wound; there’s a time it needs to be re-covered so it can continue to recover. And yes, there’s a time to let it be exposed so that the next phase of healing can begin. Leaders recognize which is appropriate for which stage of the wound, and always have the wounded’s best interests in mind. In most cases though, we keep them covered too long—and more often than not, sunlight is the best disinfectant. And more times than not, confronting the problem openly, quickly, with love turns out to be nowhere near as damaging as the anguish we put ourselves through while we put off ripping the Band-Aid.

For more on this topic visit

About the author...

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

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For For more more from from Business Business Black Black Box Box visit visit

“Greenville had some notoriety in the sense that there were big bikers, and a lot of the cyclists from out of town had heard about it since it was a big race. From there, the club continued to grow, but we didn’t see a huge change until George moved to town,” Rich remembers of the town that welcomed him and his brother in in the early ‘90s. “From there, some things kind of spawned off of that—more clubs, more races, more initiatives on bike lanes and bike paths—not necessarily because George moved here, but it gave the city a lot of credibility because one of the best cyclists in the world moved here.” For George—who starts his 17th season with the Tour de France (his 19th, as a pro) this summer—making the move was an easy decision. “Being able to live in the city and get out to the mountains in an hour on my bike, without much traffic, were huge incentives for me to move here,” he says. “I was able to live in a city that I liked, the weather was good, and I was on the east coast with quick access to Europe.” And although he splits his time between a home in the foothills and another in Spain, he speaks highly of the Southern hospitality that keeps him here. “Once I got here I realized how nice everyone was; being in New York you don’t know what that’s like. I really came to appreciate it, and now I can’t live without it.” Today, both brothers and their families, and most recently their parents, live in Greenville, representing the three facets of the cycling industry that keep the Upstate in the spotlight—the history, the sport, and the business. Although the Hincapies have become known as the Upstate’s “First Family” of cycling, it’s important to remember that the sport didn’t come down from New York with them. Many in the cycling community, in fact, point to the Assault on Mount Mitchell—an event founded in 1975 by John Bryan and promoted by the Spartanburg Freewheelers—as a baseline for cycling events and interest in the Upstate. Now one of the best-known century (100 mile) races in the country, the Assault simply began with an asset that many cyclists—before and after— find themselves drawn to in the Upstate—the landscape. If you consider that the Upstate is ideally situated for cyclists—rolling hills, peaks and valleys, scenic views, all within a ride’s distance of restaurants, entertainment, housing and specialized biking organizations—it’s no wonder that the Upstate has become such a hub for cyclists. “The area sells itself,” Rich Hincapie adds. “If you really look at cycling—at roadside cycling—at what we do, it’s really an ideal place to be.” 60

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

and past executive director of Greenville Events. He notes that the race is expected to bring about a $5 million boost to the local economy, with teams from all over the world, tie-ins from Olympic sponsors, and worldwide exposure to the Upstate. “These events help expose people to Greenville,” he adds. “They provide video and photos and website hits, and all these events over the years provide exposure to people who then move their families or their businesses there.” Not only that, but in addition to all the national events all over the Upstate, there are many more cycling events—many with a call to give back to the communities that host them. For example, in 2005, Miracle Hill Ministries launched its cycling challenge, incorporating three lengths of rides with the goal to raise money for their many services across the upstate that serve the homeless and addicted of Greenville, Spartanburg, and Cherokee counties. That same year, Palmetto Peloton Project (P3, for short) began simply, as a group of friends who liked to bike and wanted to raise money for cancer research. Now tagged on to the same weekend as the U.S. Pro Cycling Championship, the “Stars and Stripes Challenge” has raised over a million dollars for cancer research since its existence. The following year, Meals on Wheels started their “Wheels for Meals” ride, to raise money for their efforts in feeding 1,300 of Greenville’s most in-need citizens. But as more and more cyclists fall in love with the area, and more and more bikes are on the road, it’s necessary to recognize that passion for the sport and the area won’t keep them here long—at least, not without an infrastructure that supports their passion.

According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, most bike-related trips that Americans make are short, with half of them being less than three miles. And while the average household will spend more than $7,000 maintaining a vehicle this year, the bike is becoming—more and more—a practical tool for getting around work, home, school and shopping. Spartanburg was the first to recognize the need for more bicycling infrastructure—something that came about as more people enjoyed the sport, and more people turned toward bicycles as modes of transportation. In 2000, the city created the BikeTown initiative, and in 2005, the Partners for Active Living was created out of a partnership between Mary Black Health System, the City of Spartanburg, and the Spartanburg Freewheelers. According to Laura Ringo, executive director of P.A.L., the organization was focused on two things: to promote cycling as a lifestyle in Spartanburg, and to earn designation as a cycling community. Only two years later, they met their goals, and Spartanburg was given a bronze designation from the League of American Bicyclists—the first city in South Carolina to do so. “At the time, Spartanburg wasn’t the first in the Southeast [to earn a designation] but it was one of the first in the Southeast,” Ringo says. Since that time, Columbia, Greenville, and Charleston have earned bronze designation, and Hilton Head, silver. But 2012 marks four years for Spartanburg, and therefore, the ability to reapply. Ringo is hoping for a higher designation—one she is hopeful for, especially with the City’s more recent additions to Biketown.

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

Today, the Assault on Mount Mitchell still runs, and has grown into two separate rides—due to the limitations for only 750 people to run the Assault on Mount Mitchell, ride coordinators added the Assault on Marion, allowing more people to join in the ride, at least, for the first 73 miles. Since that time almost 37 years ago, the Upstate has become more and more known for it’s cycling events. In 1995, in addition to the Michelin Cycling Classic, Greenville played host to the Tour DuPont, which was intended to become a North American version of the Tour de France, and served as what some call the “first true flavor of international cycling.” (The event later fizzled out when DuPont dropped its sponsorship in 1996.) Today, in Spartanburg, the Spartanburg Regional Classic, a criterium sanctioned by USA Cycling, draws in crowds, while in Greenville, the USA Professional Cycling Championships, currently sponsored by Greenville Hospital System, will draw in tens of thousands of people who will take the town by storm to watch professional cyclists from all over compete for the title of champion. But even while those continue to run, year after year, Greenville has gained enough industry attention to garner focus in even larger events. Earlier this year, Medalist Sports,an international cycling event planner and producer, announced that in 2014, Greenville will serve as host to the UCI Para-Cycling World Championships, in which 240 athletes will compete in categories such as handcycling, or with specifications for the blind or visually impaired, or those with cerebral palsy. Many who compete are wounded U.S. military. “I think it will be one of the biggest events that the city has hosted,” says Chris Aronhalt, Managing Partner of Medalist Sports

For For more more from from Business Business Black Black Box Box visit visit

Those additions are numerous, and in many cases, evidence of public-private partnerships within the city. In 2007, P.A.L. started Hub Cycle, a program that uses donated bikes as rentals for the community. For $15, anyone can rent a bike, helmet and lock for up to three months, with a full refund with the bike’s return. It’s a program that has been widely accepted throughout the city, although not in the ways originally intended. “It began with a recreational purpose,” Ringo says of the Hub Cycle program. “But then we found out that 30 to 40 percent of the people use this as a sole means of transportation and are below the poverty level.” So, P.A.L. kept Hub Cycle in place, and added in a second program in 2011 called B-cycle, a short-term bike rental program. Also another “first in the Southeast” (with the exception of Miami), the program touts over 500 members who can walk up to any B-station and rent a bike for a day for only five dollars. In addition to these programs that help encourage people to bicycle, there are other initiatives in place for those who are already part of the cycling family. In 2006, trails all over the Upstate were converted through the federal Rails to Trails programs, which allows public entities to buy old railway property, keeping it together for future transportation uses, rather than being parceled off to individual sellers. In December 2009, the City of Spartanburg adopted a master plan for biking and pedestrians. Not only that, but the adoption of the Biketown initiative has been widespread—bike racks can now be found all over the city, and more than 200 of them were purchased by private businesses. “As cycling grows, businesses follow suit,” says Anne Hudak, the Active Lifestyles Coordinator for P.A.L. “This isn’t just about quality of life; it’s also an economic development piece.” Meanwhile, Greenville has also been focusing efforts toward becoming more bike-friendly. With the recent addition of the Swamp Rabbit Trail (another Rails-to-Trails conversion that was brought to life in 2009), the sport has become more recreation, and the professional cyclist more nature enthusiast. In fact, the trail has become so popular that it is currently the “most used facility” of all Greenville County’s Parks and Recreation division. One year’s count on the trail showed that more than 356,000 people used the trail, and that’s not counting those within the City limits. “We knew it’d be a success, so we did a county-wide greenways plan,” says Ty Houck, Greenways director for Greenville County Parks and Recreation, whose future plans include connecting the current trail to nearby communities like Simpsonville and Mauldin. Eventually, he says, it shouldn’t be surprising to be able to use trails to safely access shopping centers like The Point on Woodruff Road, now home to REI. But the most interesting thing about the Swamp Rabbit Trail and the focus on bike initiatives is not how many miles of trail we have, or how many people ride on a constant basis; it’s how many jobs have been created because of a bike. 64

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

In an old warehouse off of Cedar Lane Road sits an unassuming hotspot—the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery. When Mary Walsh and Jac Oliver decided to venture out on their own, they picked the location for its location; not only was it directly off of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, but it was also in a location deemed a “food desert”, which is defined as “an area in the U.S. with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly such an area composed of predominantly lower income neighborhoods and communities.” Deliberately, Walsh and Oliver decided to bring their ideas of sustainability and slow food to the region in the forms of local produce, organic groceries and freshly baked goods. While much of their traffic on weekends comes off of the trail, they have seen proof of their effect on the local community. “We love seeing people who walk or ride here to run their errands,” Walsh says. “We think that’s really unique.” Cross over the parking lot outside the café and you’ll see the Test Ride location for TTR bikes. Founded more than seven years ago, Scott McCrary serves the “other” kind of cyclists—tandemers, recumbent riders and touring enthusiasts. McCrary notes that “Bikes are democratic,” uniting people across social and economic boundaries like nothing else. His test location allows people to try out bikes—where else, but on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. For Houck, it makes perfect sense that smaller businesses would be cropping up along the trail near West Greenville. “That area [of West Greenville] was so neglected that a major development isn’t going to take that risk,” he says. “But when other businesses start going in and popping up, bigger chains take note. It’s probably close to what Main Street looked like 30 or 40 years ago.” But the Swamp Rabbit Trail isn’t the only location—or the only reason—that cyclingfocused businesses are booming these days. For example, take the Hincapies, whose “rides” sell for tens of thousands of dollars and take businessmen and cyclists from all over the world through the same winding roads that the professionals use for the many championship races (or those like George who use it almost daily). The Hincapie brand has expanded far from where it began, now with a full line of sportswear and casual wear under the Hincapie Sportswear brand. With 155 employees in manufacturing in Colombia, 16 in Greenville and another 14 sales reps, the Hincapies have proven one thing: businesses who serve cyclists are finding themselves in a very comfortable niche. It’s a niche that many have discovered; a survey conducted by the City of Greenville in Fall of 2011 showed an increase from two bike shops in 2005 to eight in 2011. “In that six year span, we have six more bike retailers in the city,” says Andrew Meeker, Senior Landscape architect for the City of Greenville. “And that’s something, considering there are less than 60,000 citizens in the city.” In addition to the staggering increase in bike shops (which doesn’t include big box retailers like Wal-Mart or Academy Sports), Meeker says

the study shows that 60 percent of the bike shops see over a half million dollars in sales, and just over 37 percent have sales of $1.5 to $2 million annually. Include the big box stores, and one can see how in 2010, more than $5.9 billion was spent on bikes and biking accessories across the U.S. Locally, those sales have added continued growth, and while Greenville bike shops currently employ approximately 49 employees, over 62 percent say that they plan to hire within the next 12 months. “When you look at the economic tide nationally, over the past three to four years, in a recession, the fact that we’ve been adding small businesses, providing jobs, filling storefronts—it’s a pretty positive sign,” says Meeker. From bike rentals like Reedy Rides that crop up downtown and serve the visiting tourist base, with bike-to-hotel service at the ready; to BikeWorx, which can be found just off the rail trail in Spartanburg, retail outlets and services are cropping up wherever cyclists are. But it’s also important to note that not all businesses related to the cycling industry are retail-based. For Evan Solida, founder of Cerevellum, the idea of a rear viewing system for bikers came up in college while he was studying industrial design. But it wasn’t until he was hit by a car during a bike ride that what eventually became the Hindsight, a camera-based tool that serves as a rearview mirror (of sorts) for cyclists—even recording data in case of an accident. “After [the accident], I hung up my wheels for racing, but I realized it was a good time, so I changed my focus from racing to trying to bring this product to life,” he says. For Solida, having such a wide audience on a local level has helped the development of the Hindsight. “There’s multiple professional cyclists in the Upstate; it’s part of the culture,” he says. “It’s definitely helped in building a business that’s focused on bike accessories. For a location with so much to offer the cycling community, it should come as no surprise that the Upstate economy is bursting with new opportunities for enthusiasts and businesses alike. After all, the two aren’t really that different, in the end. “The growth of cycling is a lot like the growth of Greenville,” Aronhalt says. “The right demographics are moving into Greenville; the right developments are taking place. It all goes hand in hand with people who like riding a bike.”




t’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since I started sharing with you what I have learned about a career in sales. Hopefully, you feel like we’ve built a relationship and become friends through rapport and trust. If so, that is by design. As you may have noticed, this series—regardless of titles—has been conversational in nature, yet it is a transfer of useful information for you, the reader. A sales appointment should be the same. Last issue, we discussed the four basic styles of communication. Today we will focus in on kinesthetic language. My previous paragraph, while I meant every word, was designed to make you FEEL trust through communication and relationship. Many people make their decision on whether to purchase with you or a competitor based on the sincerity of what you communicate and their feeling of trust toward you. Oftentimes, people make the false assumption that an individual who decides based on kinesthetic language is an emotional or impulse purchaser. Sometimes this is true; however, it’s not always the case. Let’s discuss how to tailor your presentation style to a kinesthetic communicator.


About the author...

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

If we review last issue, I shared an example of a sales professional who constantly said, “It’ll all come together.” A friend of mine’s father used to always say, “Are you picking up what I’m throwing down?” And one of my top-producing agents typically works to help her clients to “wrap their mind around” the home-selling process. In all of these examples, what these individuals are communicating are two things: physical contact and mental connection between two people. If these are words potential clients of yours use, then it is imperative that you grasp this style of communication and are able to deliver a presentation customized to their wants and needs. The main reason why they purchase anything is because of the underlying belief that it will support and protect someone else. Kinesthetic individuals are driven by an inner need for security, to be understood by others, and to share a mutual appreciation with all whom they come in contact with. Are you picking up what I’m throwing down so far? These customers do not do business with people, if they believe they are not cared about. Thoughtful acts displaying that you appreciate their business will go a long way with these folks.Your action says clearly to them that they have nothing to worry about. In contrast, most engineers could care less about thoughtful acts of appreciation and customer service. They care about functionality, cost-effectiveness, and being on time and under budget.This group falls into the category we classify as digital communicators, but that’s another article for an upcoming issue. Between now, as you’re reading this article, and the next issue, I want you to do something. First, go back to Business Black Box’s website and print out each of these sales columns from the last three years. Then lay them out on a large conference room table or maybe your dining room table at home. After that, create a logic scheme with them to start and finish a sales cycle. In doing this, you will have learned two things: by reading this current issue you’ll have learned how to communicate with a kinesthetic person, and by doing the homework I just gave you, you’re halfway home with the digital communicator. Figured it out yet?


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

For more on this topic visit



With actions that speak as loud as her words, Markeisha Nesbitt (a.k.a. One Love), is shaking things up in the Upstate. Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

By Amy Skaggs

“This is the new generation and yeah, we got the stacks on deck but this is the real world now and we all need a reality check. We really gotta step it up and use our brains to the best of our ability… You control your future. So do it, bit by bit. And I know determination is within you, but - Markeisha Nesbitt out here, you gotta show the world that you want it.” Nesbitt expected. She was there to perform spoken word poetry. “I honestly can’t even tell you exactly what the poems were about, but I remember thinking ‘I want to do this. I can do this.’ So I went to her and asked where I could start,” Nesbitt remembers. “She told me that I can do whatever I want to do and to just start writing. So I did. I brought her a poem every week and she told me how to improve.” As Nesbitt developed her on-stage skills thanks to another mentor and basketball coach Robert Mullins (known as Moody Black in the spoken word community), word got around that she was a poet. People began to approach her and ask her to write poetry for events. She entered a contest with the Herald-Journal for an alcohol prevention program and won first place. From then on, she knew this was her calling. In 2009 Nesbitt recorded her first album, “Behind the Hurt Lies Love” and she’s currently working on the material for her second. But even when she’s not busy writing new poetry, she plays a very active role in the Spartanburg community. “Developing my spoken word poetry really improved my communication skills and my public speaking. It got me involved with a lot of organizations on planning committees and as entertainment

for events.” Organizations include Piedmont Care, which holds an event every year to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS resources in the upstate, where Nesbitt writes a specific poem just for the event. Nesbitt also serves on the planning committee for Regenesis Healthcare, where she organizes strategies for marketing and advertising, fundraising and youth classes. In addition to those responsibilities, she performs at “Power of BeingYoung” every year for the organization. Nesbitt also is a part of the Spartanburg Youth Council, volunteers at recreation centers and participates in Youth Summits throughout the year.

where she is now a freshman studying business administration. She hopes to concentrate in entrepreneurship and use her education and experience in nonprofits to continue her involvement within the Upstate community. “It’s very important for the older generations to find a way to involve young people. You have to find out how they’re communicating—if Facebook is big, you target them from Facebook,” she says, “If Twitter is what’s big, use that. However you can, just get to their level to find out what’s going on and you reach them from there.” But there is only so much adults can do to reach the young people of today, Nesbitt explains, “You have to have the young people on your side. A lot of them won’t listen to you if they feel like you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you have someone young, that has experienced what these kids have experienced, it’s much easier for them to relate and accept what you’re trying to say,” she says. While Nesbitt admits her life is busy with all her volunteer work, school and her art, she wouldn’t have it any other way, “It’s what I do. I love it. I don’t see any reason to stop doing what I’m good at,” After graduating from she says, “I’m all about making a Spartanburg High, Nesbitt went on difference. That’s what I do. That’s to Spartanburg Methodist College, what my poems do.”

“I’m all about getting involved in the community. There are plenty of opportunities out there for people. You just have to look for them,” she says.

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

The words of Markeisha Nesbitt’s spoken word poetry hit hard on a major setback with the young people of today: the lack of motivation to make a real impact on the community. This is a problem she intends to face head on, using her own life as an example to her peers. Nesbitt’s recent fame stemmed from her spoken word poetry performance of “She Lost It,” a performance that earned her the title of spokesperson for the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. She was only a senior at Spartanburg High School when she began appearing on local television shows such as Your Carolina with Jack and Kimberly and as a speaker for TEDx Spartanburg. She understands the need well—when she herself had a difficult time adjusting between elementary and middle schools, her grades took a dive. Concerned, she went to her parents, who decided it would be best for her to enroll in an afterschool tutoring program. From there, her future changed. The program often brought in speakers to address the students regarding subjects like scholarships or personal finances, but one day Dr. Frances Hardy, an English teacher from Spartanburg High, came to speak. Dr. Hardy didn’t want to talk about essay writing or proper grammar like young

For more from Business Black Box visit

In the Upstate— where the area boasts 10 counties with very different draws—there is also a good chance that the places we want and need to be are located in different towns or counties. And although our modes of travel might have been planned on a city-by-city, county-bycounty basis, that does not necessarily reflect the way people—or goods—travel. As the Upstate continues to grow, our transit models must evolve as well, and that means transit that serves people and businesses, and also supports the communities and natural environment that make the Upstate attractive. The current fragmented approach will not remain sustainable in a region that is already connected in so many ways.In fact, we may need to start by rethinking our very definition of transportation. Today, getting around the Upstate usually means getting into a car. It’s a common situation across America, but one that many cities are trying to change. As small towns become mid-sized cities, and midsized cities explode, the discussion about how to move people and goods is also expanding. Focusing on cars alone is quickly becoming an outdated way of dealing with the transportation, and even public transportation is only one part of a larger picture. Now “multi-modal transportation”— bicycles, trains, buses, cars and pedestrian paths—is a phrase you might hear. In truly progressive circles, “mobility” is the word of the day, summoning a more complete view of movement in cities, and calling for innovations to make that movement as efficient and enjoyable as possible. In order for our region to thrive, “transportation” cannot simply be a euphemism for “driving.” It also needs to include methods like rail, trails, bicycle paths, or bus rapid transit. Not only that, but it will also require that our communities plan and work together, and soon.


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

Depending on what time of day you choose to make a trip up or down I-85, you might get the sense that the congested future is already here in the Upstate. The cars and trucks that often creep along our many stretches of highway are harbingers of how the rest of the Upstate could look if planning is not done properly. Serving as models of this are our neighbors in the metropolitan areas to the north and south. “We don’t want to be Charlotte; we don’t want to be Atlanta,” says Dean Hybl, executive director of Ten at the Top, when he describes the messages he gets from Upstate residents. “If we’re going to ensure as a region that we don’t become a Charlotte or an Atlanta in terms of congestion, then we need to be planning today.” Fortunately, Ten at the Top has already been facilitating collaboration on Upstate transportation. They found that 75 percent of people they surveyed thought the Upstate was a good or excellent place to live, but all of them felt it takes too long to get around now, and that it will get worse. The problem is that there are about 1.3 million people in the Upstate, yet there is no cohesive transit system. Already, interstate traffic comes to a standstill. Main roads in and around Anderson, Greenville, Simpsonville and Spartanburg regularly see the kind of stop-and-go traffic that one would expect from much larger cities. Employment opportunities are spread out throughout the Upstate so that working one or even two counties away from home is not uncommon. To add to these challenges, public transportation is virtually non-existent in some areas, and too slow and limited to be useful in most of the rest. Still, traffic congestion is only the most obvious issue. Consider our airport as part of the equation. Last year, the addition of Southwest Airlines to local air providers dramatically increased the number of passengers moving through Greenville-Spartanburg International airport (GSP). Not only will an increasing number of passengers expect good ground transportation to surrounding communities when they step off the plane, but companies that move goods through the airport also must consider how easily their products can move to and from GSP to many areas. The airport business relies on railroad and paved roads to transport cargo that is flown in. There are also passengers who want to easily access Upstate communities or pass through to other parts of South Carolina and neighboring states. What’s more, the transportation infrastructure is part of what attracts or deters airlines from setting up shop in the airport. “Looking at the system on a holistic basis is extremely important,” says Dave Edwards, Executive Director of GSP. “Any airline, including Southwest, is going to look at the population base that can be accessed by ground,” adds Edwards.“It is a very important piece of what an airline looks at because they want to make sure they’re able to deliver good service in that community they commit to.”That is not a trivial matter: GSP moved from about 600,000 boardings in 2010 to more than 900,000 boardings in 2011 after Southwest’s arrival, and many of those people would have traveled through the Upstate at some point in the trip. In addition, about 1,000 people commute to and from the airport daily. But while most of the challenges can be easily seen, some are practically invisible to the naked eye. In fact, when it comes to

Where we are now Thankfully, amid the challenges, there are kernels of progress to build upon. For instance, various projects are allowing people to travel longer distances by bus. Clemson Area Transit Authority, CATbus, has served Clemson Central, Anderson, Pendleton, and Seneca residents for more than a decade, also connecting to Greyhound and Amtrak. Last year, a new solar-powered headquarters/bus stop with other environmentally conscious specifications added to CATbus’ cache as a model for other systems. The Greenville Transit Authority (GTA) was also recognized last year as the state’s most improved transit system due to a number of enhancements. Its entire fleet was replaced with safer, better quality biodiesel buses that produce much less air pollution.Those buses are also on time around 99 percent of the time since changes to how and where they stop have been made in response to complaints. David Mitchell, chairman of the Greenville Transit Authority/Greenlink, or GTA, says the improvements also attracted opportunities. “Consequently, we have developed historic public/private partnerships” he says. “Local private businesses, such as Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research and St. Francis

Medical System, have witnessed the growth and improvements in the system and have requested to purchase service from GTA.” Right now GTA is focused on developing a plan to financially sustain the current operations while seeking additional revenue to meet growing demands on the system. Mitchell says expanding public transportation to Mauldin and Simpsonville is a priority, with the goal to eventually extend the system to everyone who rides from Travelers Rest to Fountain Inn and from Clemson to GSP. Spartanburg, too, has been successful in responding to how people, not just cars, move around. “It’s all about the trip,” says Lisa Bollinger at the Spartanburg Area Transportation Study, or SPATS, referencing their motto. That means it’s not just about the automobile. In addition to transit and an express bus, Spartanburg is working with a draft plan to look at more efficient routes, better access, and possibly a regional express bus.They are still implementing a 2009 master plan for bicyclepedestrian transportation, which includes long bike routes and trails that connect to North Carolina. To help create a more “interactive” experience, Spartanburg has put an additional emphasis on integrating cultural and historical information into the transit experience, adding historical markers along paths outside the city, and interactive music history lessons along the downtown sidewalks. There is also the bike-sharing program run by a private company. “B-Cycles is another way in our area to give folks an option to leave that car behind,” says Bollinger. She also points to the Mary Black Foundation rail trail, which parallels the street route many commuters use, as an opportunity for bicycle commuting.

Moving together Alongside this creative thinking and forward movement developing in separate Upstate counties is the notion that only a regional vision and a collaborative approach will ultimately give these efforts the most impact. It is also the best way to accommodate growth while sustaining communities. For more from Business Black Box visit

environmental issues related to transportation, air quality is one of the most pressing in this region, and one reason why regional transit is in Greenville’s best interest, according to Shelley Robbins at Upstate Forever. The group focuses on working to accommodate population growth without sacrificing natural resources and a healthy environment. “I-85 simply cannot handle the traffic that is coming as this region grows, and we just narrowly missed being named in EPA non-attainment for ground-level ozone last year,” says Robbins,, who serves as Upstate Forever’s Sustainable Communities Program Associate. “We will continue to face air quality challenges, and this must be handled on a regional basis.”

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

Greer Mayor Rick Danner has developed a passion for collaborative efforts in a city that is literally at the crossroads of many issues related to mobility in the Upstate. He says that it was a matter of necessity, not just interest, that Greer has become involved in encouraging a regional transportation system, in a city that has seen as much as 60 percent growth in some years. “In a situation like that, you cannot afford to be reactionary,” he notes. What’s more, being in a position that calls for communication with planning officials in both Greenville and Spartanburg counties, Danner discovered that both sides were considering Greer in their transportation plans. They were not, however, communicating those plans with each other, and potentially missing an opportunity to share resources. Fortunately, there is agreement on this issue. Lisa Bollinger at SPATS maintains that Upstate communities will have a stronger voice in state and even federal transportation planning if they coordinate to function as a single, more powerful region. David Mitchell of GTA agrees that proactive planning and development of regional transit throughout the county is absolutely in Greenville’s best interest. Otherwise, the future holds continuous and costly expansion of road infrastructure, and longer, less time-efficient trips. But before ground is broken for a new lane or bushes get pulled up for a path, there must always be something in writing. Even for neighboring public organizations who work across municipal lines an official sanction is needed. Last year, Upstate Forever brought together transportation planners and staff from Greenville,Anderson, Spartanburg and other cities to talk together in one room for the first time ever, says Robbins. Ten at the Top, which works to foster regional collaboration on various issues, has also lent its expertise to regional transportation. Hybl notes that once people recognize there’s a great value for the time and energy that goes into it, then it tends to take over for itself. “The greatest challenge is often to get people to recognize that collaboration doesn’t take any more time than doing things on your own,” he says. “It’s not that they don’t think collaboration has value, it’s just initially it can seem like it would take longer than doing our own thing for our community.” Still, while there is willingness and enthusiasm to look forward, moving forward is another story. “It’s not hard to create a vision and get consensus on a vision,” says Bollinger. “I think it’s hard to follow up. I think we’ve done a wonderful job, but I just think it needs to be formalized.”


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

First, there are the difficulties of even beginning to communicate across various lines. For instance, SPATS only covers the urban area of Spartanburg County, so it would need formal permission to work with GPATS (Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study) to discuss transportation in Greer. When stakeholders do come together, they can take important steps, and a small but significant memorandum of understanding (MOU) is helping to pave the way for regional transportation. The MOU among SPATS, GPATS, and the Appalachian Council of Governments gives these groups permission to communicate about projects and plans. As the federally required transportation study organizations in their respective areas, they can now begin exploring collaborative possibilities. “On the surface [the MOU] doesn’t seem like a big deal,” says Danner, “but it’s the first time that I’m aware of that it’s ever happened. Even beyond that, it gives us the ability to address issues that typically have been looked at in sort of a vacuum.” It is also the first official message to the outside world that some communities in this region plan to discuss transportation with one voice. Bollinger says partners need not only be the largest and most powerful organizations; smaller groups are, and should be, part of the process. Non-profit organizations that work on trails, state bike groups, business associations, and upstate alliances are all important, and GTA’s work with St. Francis and CU-ICAR exemplifies the possibilities of private/public partnerships. “I keep telling people that if the government would focus on having the roadways more accessible for everyone and the nonprofits would focus on trails and things, in the future we could have tremendous options for travel,” Bollinger says. Fortunately, there also seems to be agreement about the next steps. First, the traffic on I-85 needs to be addressed, and some are looking to the Highway 29 corridor as a promising opportunity for cross-community planning that both addresses the I-85 issue and better connects the Upstate. For Edwards, a focus on I-85 is crucial. “That is a very critical artery for [GSP]… We need an I-85 that has a trip capacity that will support through traffic as well as the local community…. If it works for the rest of the community with relative ease, then it’s probably going to work for the airport.”

purchased at larger volume for deeper discounts. Danner says Greer has already been able to secure the first federal grant applied for since the MOU was signed, while past attempts to access similar money for Greer-only efforts had been unsuccessful. (Federal officials had advised that the more communities that will be impacted by an initiative, the more likely it is to be funded.) The grant will allow representatives from Greer and 14 other communities to attend workshops focused on smart growth planning this year.

The idea of cohesive regional transportation has not been difficult to sell, but it will be hard to pay for. A plan is nothing more than that until there is funding attached, but that kind of money is hard to come by these days. Mass transit, for instance, is usually heavily subsidized by local, state, and federal dollars. Lager municipalities tend to deal with issues specific to the systems they already have in place. “It’s been hard for them to offer much support to the idea without knowing there will definitely be a return,” says Danner. “They’re operating on such limited budgets.” The kind of cohesive, comprehensive transit discussed here “I hate to say it, but we will have a hard time moving forward on would take 20 to 25 years to complete, and that is if we start now. major road improvement and transit projects without a local option “It’s crazy how much patience it takes,” says Bollinger.“You need sales tax, preferably one that crosses two or more counties, or some money and patience.” other type of local funding,” says Robbins.“SCDOT simply Projected patterns of growth and movement over cannot pay for these projects under the current gas the next 20 years in the Upstate will determine tax funding structure. If the Upstate wants better what kind of planning needs to happen today. roads and more transit options, we need to The geographic boundaries of a regional ask ourselves the hard question: are we transportation plan, the modes of travel, willing to fund it ourselves?” the routes and accessibility—all of these Hybl says taxes can work, but they depend on what kind of population we are difficult to pass. expect, and what sort of communities “Simply raising taxes is not an idea we desire. that will gain a lot of support in the A regional mass transit system that Upstate unless there is a strategic might include trains, light-rail, buses As well-planned transit increases, plan behind it that is well vetted and or some other option will require a development hopefully will begin illustrates the value for local residents. deep understanding of what drives to cluster around logical hubs, with There is already a model for such a the system now. Do people need multi-modal interconnections such program in the Pennies for Progress better option to get to health care as taxis, [hourly-rental] cars, and program that has helped increase providers, or to jobs? Where, exactly, bikes, made much easier. economic vitality and reduce travel should stops be located, not only for congestion for residents in York County.” greatest efficiency but also ease of use? Then, However, he cautions that it was intensive there is the need for a critical mass of riders—a public input and government transparency that sufficient population—to support the system. True helped the tax pass, and support increased slowly after development of Highway 29 might also have to wait until the benefits became apparent. population density increases along that corridor. In contrast to pulling in more local tax dollars, GTA obtained In addition to planning and funding, there is something of a money for its biodiesel overhaul through the Federal Transportation cultural shift that needs to happen. Administration. Mitchell says that funding for projects comes from “We need to rethink how we move around,” says Robbins. “As a variety of sources: federal and state funding, apportionments from well-planned transit increases, development hopefully will begin Greenville County and City of Greenville, and local private dollars. to cluster around logical hubs, with multi-modal interconnections “About 23 percent of our annual costs are covered through such as taxis, [hourly-rental] cars, and bikes, made much easier. fare box revenue,” he says. Another $300,000 annually comes from Without a culture that embraces sensible land use planning, this SCODT through the State Mass Transit Funds from the statewide will be difficult and haphazard. This—along with funding—is our gasoline tax.Transit providers throughout the state access this money planning challenge.” to subsidize the cost of operations. If and when the money has been secured, Hybl reinforces the notion “We are currently looking to build upon our public/private that working together will garner the biggest bang for our bucks. partnerships,” says Mitchell. “These partnerships, such as the one “You can spend all the money you want, but if you’re not between Greenlink, CU-ICAR and St. Francis, have historically working with the other folks around you, then your success is proven successful in enabling GTA/Greenlink to maximize the use going to be mitigated.” With so many pieces that need to come of both public and private dollars to maximize our shared goals.” together—multiple cities, civic organizations, business, state and Collaboration can help in other ways. It can bring down costs federal regulators and funders—active commitment and formal when two projects are planned concurrently so that materials can be guidelines will be needed for transit that serves the Upstate well.

The road ahead

We need to rethink how we move around.

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

Paying for progress



t’s been said for years that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, and the reasons are obvious—we only pass on or recommend something that we really believe does the job, saves money or does anything that helps the one tell about it.

Word-of-mouth is seldom questioned and often believed because it’s volunteered info. No one is being paid to say how great your product or service was to them. So, with the fact that word-of-mouth advertising is free, and that it carries a lot of weight, it is an incredibly valuable tool to the small business startup.


Consider that word-of-mouth advertising can be like the weather. It’s out there somewhere. When it pours, things grow. But when it doesn’t, things dry up. Well, you can’t control the weather, but you as a business startup can at least influence and navigate word-of-mouth marketing through a little resource called Facebook and the Facebook Page. • •

Facebook currently has 800 million users worldwide.* There are 200 million users in the U.S. alone.*

HOW TO MAKE WORD-OF-MOUTH WORK FOR THE STARTUP: FACEBOOK A Facebook page is simply a profile page for a business or organization. When someone “Likes” a Facebook page, they click the Like button that lets a user share your content with their friends on Facebook. When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user’s friends’ News Feed with a link back to your Facebook page. Seeing in their Newsfeed that a friend “liked” your brand (your Facebook page) is the equivalent to old-fashioned word-of-mouth buzz. Can “Likes” Really Create Buzz About Your Brand Just Like Word-of-mouth Advertising? Well, consider the following: • • •

The average Facebook user has 130 friends and “Likes” two pages a month. The average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. For every one person that Likes a brand, an additional 34 of their friends can be reached through exposure to the “Liker”.**

Facebook Helps Generate and Navigate “Word-of-mouth Advertising” for the Startup: • •

65 percent of U.S. Facebook users said they are more likely to buy a product based on a positive friend referral.** Marketing that incorporates a Social Media tactic generates nearly 2.5 times more offline and online brand conversations than marketing that does not incorporate social tactics.They also yield four times as many influenced purchases.

So my advice to every small business startup: get the word-of-mouth buzz going about your business by launching and leveraging a Facebook page. *Inside Facebook Gold **”The Power of the Like: How Brands Reach and Influence Fans Through Social Media Marketing” comScore, May 2011 ***Digital Actions and their effect on Advocacy, 22squared and Consumer Insights Inc., 2010

For more on this topic visit

About the author...

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

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


1 1



For more from Business Black Box visit



Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

1 1

A high school friend who worked at the Village Inn restaurant in Charleston, SC, opened a door and asked if I wanted to be a cook. I jumped on it, and worked there on and off through college.

[2]What are some of the skills you developed early, that you’ve found to be beneficial now?

I have always been self-starter. I’m naturally wired to find challenges and then to recruit people to help me to fix them. My scoutmaster told me that my responsibility in life was to leave the world better than I found it. That got buried deeper in my psyche than he could possibly have imagined, and I’ve spent my life trying to live up to that ideal.

[7]What do you struggle with?

I majored in accounting in college because I liked business, and accounting is the language of business. I went into public accounting with KPMG,and there I saw small groups of individuals investing together in entrepreneurial companies. Today we call them angel investors, but no one had heard of that then. I formed Capital Insights to organize wealthy individuals investing together, and grew it into one of the largest organized angel groups in the country.While at KEMET, I formed InnoVenture to create more venture quality companies like the ones I wished Capital Insights has been able to invest in. After leaving KEMET in 2005, I began running InnoVenture full time.

[8]What is your take on social media? Do you use it?

Find that thing that you are passionate about, so you can work hard, have fun, and leave the world a better place, all at the same time. I lead by example, and surround myself with people willing to get in the boat and help row. I’m proud of the InnoVenture team, who inspire me with their dedication and commitment.

I regularly post to Facebook and Twitter, and also use LinkedIn and Google+, which have created massive social graphs of who is connected to who in the world. They are like utilities which are natural monopolies and are very hard to duplicate. Now the action is creating businesses in layers on top of their social graphs. Zynga, which created Farmville on Facebook, is a great example of business created on top of Facebook that is successful enough that Zynga itself has gone public.We’re thinking hard about how InnoVenture can build our business on top of these platforms.

[4]You could choose one principle you know

[9]You’re a huge proponent of education,

[3]What vision do you promote for your employees, and how do you get your employees to buy into or tap into that vision?

now that you wish you had known earlier in your career, what would that be?

Think bigger, then focus on the bright spots and go do more of that. Those two principals are potentially explosive. People can get excited about big, visionary ideas. But then they need hope and a path, so they see how they can see how to take the first steps on an incredible journey.

[5]What was your biggest failure?

My biggest success and my biggest failure occurred at the same time in a venture capital fund I ran in the 1990s. I invested $3 million of my partners’ capital in an organic grocery store run by a fellow that had never grown a company before. Earth Fare was an out of the park home run investment. I invested $3 million in an employee leasing company, Paradyme, run by a team that had just sold a very successful company with a bunch of similar companies going public in the same industry. When I teach MBA classes occasionally, I wear a Paradyme hat because that hat is the total return on our $3 million investment. That’s one expensive hat.

[6]What did you do to recover from that failure?

First, I had always been clear with my partners that our investments were risky, so when one didn’t work out no one doubted my integrity. I stayed open for the next opportunity, and when the door opened I walked through it. My largest investor was the Chief Financial Officer of KEMET, a NewYork Stock Exchange company.We bumped into each other at a morning meeting in town, and he asked if I knew anyone good to head in investor relations on Wall Street. I thought about it and called him at home that night to say I did – me. I meant to help him out for a year, but stayed at KEMET for five years, leaving asVice President of Strategy and Communication.

innovation,entrepreneurship and creativity. How do all of these things fit together?

We live in a global economy with seven billion people, and our prosperity depends on us having a creative culture.Teachers need to be empowered to be as entrepreneurial as others in our society to create education options as diverse as the students they teach.We need to move beyond cramming facts in students’ heads to teaching them to become creative thinkers. A more creative education culture is the foundation for students to be more innovative and entrepreneurial throughout the rest of their lives wherever they work.

[10]How and why did you start InnoVenture? I ran a venture capital firm in the 1990s, and I started InnoVenture to prove there were enough venture quality companies to support a new venture capital fund. What I proved is that there weren’t. So I began looking at where there are people in our community who are among the best in the world at what they do, and over time I evolved InnoVenture into a platform to create new, highly scalable business opportunities I started out looking for.

[11]What’s next for John Warner?

Recently I acquired the domain to become the leading global community for discovering and developing new business opportunities by helping people with resources can discover new business opportunities they otherwise would not see, and helping people with opportunities can attract resources they otherwise would not have access to. I’m still working hard, having fun, leaving the world better than I found it, and living a dream. Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

[1]What was your first job?




s the political campaign heats up this year, the number one issue on everyone’s mind is the economy; specifically, jobs. The past three years we have seen the worst recession since the depression and—regardless of political party—no side has come up with a clear cut fix. One theme that continues to be a drum beat across the nation and in the Upstate: “Our jobs are gone to Asia and we have not replaced them; we are losing ground to the low cost countries.”


But let’s take examples of this and examine them a littler closer. First, we need to understand how we got to where we are. This is fundamental cause-and-effect by you, the consumer. The more commercial goods and high-tech products you buy at lower costs the more the production will be in lower-cost countries. And, once it goes “over there,” it does not come back. Steve Jobs, within the year he died, told President Obama that Apple employs over 40,000 workers in the U.S. and over 700,000 in China.Why? Because the U.S. is obsessed with advanced technology but is not willing to pay the price for it. Keep in mind; we have the lowest retail prices in the world for 95 percent of the electronics that are purchased in discount stores.

MADE IN CHINA— WHO REALLY PROFITS? The Tale of the Boot About the author...

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

There is a factory in Tianjin, China, a port city about 100 miles east of Beijing, which makes boots that are high quality and very affordable. This factory has been in business for over 10 years and has shown improvements in products, quality, and costs that allow you the end customers to continue to support them. The argument could be made: Why can’t we make the same boots in the U.S. and save jobs? Consider the following: • • • • • • •

After 155 laborious steps, the boot sells for $15.30, with a pretax profit of $0.65 Tianjin factory payroll is $1.30 per pair of boots (or 2.6 percent of the U.S. retail price) Dorm, rent and food costs $19 a month Even if you double all the salaries, the retail price of the boots would be $51 What about the exchange rates? A 10 percent raise in the Yuan would only translate to a 1.3 percent increase on the retail price A U.S. retailer after shipping, rent and salaries will sell the boots for $49.99, with a pretax profit of $3.46 $29 of the total cost of the boot is generated entirely within the U.S.—paying for salaries of advertisers, web designers, truckers and sales people

As you can see, the power is very much with the buyer rather than the seller. Give free enterprise a break. China has put over 400 million people into the middle class—a third of the population; Apple and the Tianjin boot factory have turned just as many into very satisfied customers. For a more comprehensive look at the cost of boots, visit for expanded content.


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

For more on this topic visit

1 0 1





M I NU T E S .



101 DAYS

The Purpose

The Plan

The People


The plan: to open Breakwater’s

Co-owners Gary and Donna

been a staple in the Beaufort

second location in Greenville,

Lang and Beth Shaw have been

community for the past seven

S.C., while maintaining the

in business together for years,

years. So when they started

integrity of the Breakwater

and created a rather successful

thinking about opening a second



restaurant based on good, fresh,

location, and found a spot in

ongoing efforts of the restaurant

local foods. But it’s rare to find

the West End of downtown

in Beaufort. It’s a rough road

owners that are also executive

Greenville, it was only natural

ahead, but hopefully the “foodie”

chefs—both Beth and Gary are

that they’d want to recreate the

culture, found in the Upstate as

well used to working in the

same experience in the Upstate

well as on the S.C. coast, will be

kitchen, creating new dishes

as they did on the coast.

in their favor.

and making an impact through

For more from Business Black Box visit





their food.


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

1 0 1



For more from Business Black Box visit

Co-owner and Executive Chef, Breakwater Restaurant

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


1 0 1


Day 1 The team walks the new space in downtown Greenville with the interior designer, who designed the original Breakwater restaurant in Beaufort. With a look that is “similar, but different,” the team wants to ensure that the Breakwater brand is established from the second you walk in the door.

Day 21

Day 44

Everyone spends the evening on the job in Beaufort, handling a packed New Year’s Eve house. It’s mostly locals and regulars, so it’s more like throwing a big party for friends, but it still ends up being a wild night. “It’s always the best night of the year for our restaurant,” says Gary.

Breakwater holds their job fair, receiving overwhelming media coverage and more than 150 applicants. At the end of the day, the team sits at Carolina Ale House and begins culling through all the resumes. It’s a long process, but it ensures that Breakwater will have some of the best staff in town.

1010101010101010101010101010101 1010101010101010101010101010101 1010101010101010101010101010101

Day 3 In the first of several meetings with Radium Architecture and Ballentine Equipment Co., the team goes over floorplans for the new space. Because the restaurant in this location prior was so different, they look at several changes, including a rather large expansion of the current kitchen, removal of a central dividing wall, lowering the bars and adding a few drop ceilings.

For more from Business Black Box visit


Day 15 It’s Christmastime, and the Langs celebrate in Athens, Ga., with family after spending Christmas Eve with Beth. The holidays are a welcome break for what is soon to be a very hectic time, sustaining one restaurant in the Lowcountry while opening another in the Upstate.


Day 32

Day 51

The team meets with their PR and Marketing firm, Crawford Strategy, to begin planning for a job fair. There’s a need to hire around 30 people for the Upstate location, and it’s vital to get the word out effectively. The team also discusses opening week events— primarily the preview events. Locals from Beaufort will be able to see the new location, and Upstate leaders, business people, and foodies will be able to sample what Breakwater has to offer.

The second round of job interviews begins, and the team realizes the caliber of people they are interviewing.

After much discussion, it is decided that there will be two events—one for media, Beaufort regulars and some Upstate leaders, and the other, a seated, invitation-only dinner.



Day 37 Gary, Donna and Beth have lunch with Stacey Wingate, who they hire as bar manager. Stacy has been a bartender for about 20 years and has created a following in the Upstate. His experience and knowledge is a great coup for Breakwater.

says Donna, and Beth agrees. “We probably held 50 interviews for kitchen staff, and out of those 50, we only called 10 back,” says Beth. “But those 10, they were all solid.” The “foodie” culture in the Upstate that has bred so many restaurant experiences works in their favor; it means there are many industry professionals available.

1010101010101010101010101010101 1010101010101010101010101010101


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

1 0 1

Day 55

Day 58

The team finds out what it’s like to do business with the city of Greenville when it asks permission to plant grass alongside the building.

Pop-up banners are installed in the restaurant to advertise to local foot traffic that the restaurant will soon be open. Hopefully, the QR code on the banners will attract enough people to the website to generate interest long before the restaurant even opens.

“The city came back with a whole landscape plan and said, ‘we’ve got it,’” Donna remembers. The surprise is pleasant, and resonates with the team.


“We were so excited to see everything after it was installed,” says Donna. “Nobody sent us a picture because they wanted it to be a surprise. But by the time we got in, everything was covered up in protective film. It will be a couple of weeks before we finally get to be able to see.” 1010101010101010101010101010101


Day 75



Day 63 Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation hosts a Valentine’s Ball, and restaurants host intimate parties for attendees prior to the event. For Breakwater, this means taking care of 24 people before they attend the ball, which will raise money for local health services.

1010101010101010101010101010101 1010101010101010101010101010101

‘IF YOU GUYS NEED ANYTHING WE’LL BE HAPPY TO HELP YOU,’” SAYS BETH. “I DON’T THINK IT’S UNUSUAL FOR GREENVILLE, BUT IT IS NOT WHAT WE WERE USED TO.” Gary says it’s no accident Greenville looks the way it does. “Everybody with the city has been very accommodating. They wanted to do business with us.”

Breakwater receives confirmation that they will host a wine dinner for Euphoria 2012, with guest chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. “People from Euphoria hadn’t even been to Breakwater in Beaufort, so they were inviting us to participate based on reputation alone,” says Beth.

Day 66 There is much discussion over one design of the new restaurant—a red granite bar top. Although the team decides to go ahead with this bold color choice, a few are not convinced. They agree to have it installed, but are anxious to see how it will turn out.

Day 78 Breakwater provides champagne for the Junior League Oscar Night fundraiser— another opportunity to get the word out about the restaurant prior to opening. The restaurant is well received, and Donna even wins a bracelet in one of the giveaways.

1010101010101010101010101010101 1010101010101010101010101010101

Day 73 Breakwater’s new floors and signature red bar are installed, but because of ongoing renovations, it is immediately covered up.

Day 81 After waiting for what seems like forever, the team finds out there is a five-week lag time on all the equipment for the bar. Because everything seems to rely on something


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit


1 0 1


else happening already, a five-week delay is unacceptable—especially since the restaurant will be opening in less than a month. “It was so stressful, because everything at that time was taking longer than it was supposed to,” Beth remembers. “All the equipment has to be in before you can get your DHEC license, and that’s before you get your liquor license.” So, in the scramble to find new equipment in time, Beth tells the original supplier they’ll find their equipment elsewhere.


Day 89 A decorative feature—the wine wall—is installed in a side room adjacent to the bar. It will also serve as a private dining room. The wall displays approximately 1,000 bottles of wine (Breakwater serves more than 60 varieties of wine by the glass) and Donna says the room will serve as her “hurricane shelter,” a joke that originates from living on the coast and having a similar floor-to-ceiling wine display at Breakwater in Beaufort.


Day 93 After much waiting, Breakwater receives their occupancy and DHEC permits. But there’s no time to celebrate in Greenville—Gary, Donna and Beth drive back to Beaufort for a party for a bartender of 10 years who was moving to New York.


For more from Business Black Box visit

APPEARS,” SHE REMEMBERS WITH A SMILE. 1010101010101010101010101010101

Day 85 Wingate participates in a local bartender challenge at Zen, where he debuts Breakwater’s signature Rose Vine martini. 1010101010101010101010101010101


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


Day 94 Beth takes the first food delivery the same day that the new menus arrive. The Greenville menu reflects the Beaufort menu, with a few additions— including quail from Manchester Farms and pickled shrimp. “Pickled shrimp is an absolute staple in Beaufort,” says Gary. “We wanted to bring some of the Lowcountry to the Upstate.” But there are other things that won’t be coming from the Lowcountry. Many ingredients are locally sourced to provide the freshest

options and also benefit Upstate communities and farmers.


Day 96 Only five days before opening, and staff training finally begins. It’s not normal to wait that long to first train staff, but as Beth notes “You cant get any food in until you get your DHEC Grade A, and you cant get any alcohol in until your food comes in, so we did it as fast as we could.”


Day 98 Gary, Donna and Beth have dinner in Greenville with friends from Beaufort, who traveled up to wish them well with the new restaurant. They are the first of many friends from the Lowcountry who will descend upon Greenville for the Preview Party Sunday night. For the team, it’s a much-needed respite. “It was nice to take a break. We were

1 0 1

working so hard, putting in 14-hour days,” Gary says.


Day 99 It’s the night of the Preview Party, where Breakwater features some of its cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Over the night, local media merge with Upstate professionals and about 40 Beaufort regulars, who came to Greenville of their own accord.


Day 100 Tonight, as the second of their opening week events, is First Taste, an invitationonly dinner, where 135 prominent community members come in to one of two seatings over two hours. It’s great, but very hectic to serve so many in so little time. Beth remembers the chaos that the evening brought, but also some of the benefits it gave, as well. “Some tables never even turned,” she says. “But, a lot of these people have already come back, so it’s been great.”




Day 101 Breakwater Restaurant & Bar opens to a full house for dinner, and it’s busy, but thankfully not as hectic as First Taste. So busy in fact, that Chefs Gary and Beth join sous chefs Brandon and Chris to maintain the pace of the kitchen as a brand-new staff begins to put their training into action. The restaurant is full, and serves as evidence that the past six months have been well worth every minute of work.


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


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit




ne year ago, thousands of South Carolina businesses were handed the largest tax increase in the state’s history. Thousands of businesses were hit with such exorbitant increases that hiring was halted, capital investment delayed, and expansions trashed. Understandably, they were mad as hell. As a result, the South Carolina Legislature quickly responded by providing them with the largest tax relief package in the state’s history, to the tune of $146 million.


So, why are businesses red faced again? They recently discovered that 20 percent of their state unemployment taxes (SUTA) paid last year was wasted; $136 million in unemployment benefits was handed out to people who had been fired from their jobs for cause and to people who committed fraud to gain unemployment benefits.That $136 million is nearly one-third of the total unemployment benefits paid out last year. Think this can’t be happening? It is. Just ask the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SC DEW), which estimates that $50 million was paid out to individuals who had been fired for cause last fiscal year And, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, $86 million was paid out last year in South Carolina fraudulently.



Senator Bryant commented by saying, “Last year the Department doled out $136 million in unlawful benefits and not a single employee at that department has been fired for breaking the law. Instead of a mission to get folks back to work, they’ve become agents of socialism and our state’s employers are paying the price.” The unemployment insurance system is intended to support individuals who have been let go at no fault of their own—it is not intended for those who were fired for cause or for those committing fraud. The documented cases of people being fired and collecting unemployment benefits are egregious and countless, as was recorded at a recent state Senate panel hearing. In one case, an employee who was awarded weeks of unemployment benefits was fired because he had sexually harassed employees on multiple occasions—examples that were well documented. In another case, a bank teller who stole money was still awarded unemployment benefits. And in another, an employee who was fired for discharging his firearm at work was awarded benefits. Mad yet? You should be. That $136 million in waste means real jobs lost and investments not made. Hopefully change will come. The business community is asking the Legislature for that waste to be paid back to them in the form of SUTA credits. Senator Bryant and other legislators are working on bills that will more clearly legislate that workers who have been fired should be prohibited from receiving unemployment benefits. And, SC DEW Director General Abe Turner and his leadership team have implemented a system to significantly reduce fraud—cross-referencing people on a payroll with those collecting unemployment benefits. If there is a match, then the unemployment benefits are ceased and subsequent persecution commences. Senator Bryant and General Turner should be commended for their work to reduce waste. But, there is still much work to be done so that South Carolina can do what it does best: create jobs and spur investment.

For more on this topic visit

About the author...

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

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box





THE PITCH: Now more than ever relationships matter. The right person delivering the right message in the right way is infinitely more effective than thousands of letters from faceless, often fabricated, individuals who have no relationship whatsoever with the official. The RAP Index identifies, quantifies and qualifies key personal relationships within your own company, association or organization so that you can influence key influencers. A software service developed by advocacy experts for advocacy professionals, the RAP Index decisively measures the Relationships, Advocability and Political capital of stakeholders. First, a customized, targeted online survey is sent to all of your stakeholders asking questions of each individual, such as: who they know, what organizations they donate to, how they get their news, and more. Secondly, each respondent is given a proprietary RAP Index score based on 1) the depth, breadth and scope of relationships they have with elected officials, 2) their willingness to take advocacy action, and 3) their sphere of influence in the community. Finally, an organization can search the results by elected official, constituency, or specific issue this allows you to locate the best advocates for any given situation, and the most effective ways to get them engaged on your behalf.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios




Once the reader finally “gets” the context for the use of the RAP Index, the problem and solution become more clear; the description of the product then makes sense and the pitch does its work of enticing the reader to want to learn more about an intriguing tool. One suggestion that might help make the pitch clearer and stronger out of the gate would be to start with a story a story about a previously unknown advocacy relationship that led to a great outcome for an organization. Once the context is set, the pitch can then turn to convincing the reader that the RAP Index can help replicate that story many times for any organization. Of course the story must be short and it should follow the Heath brothers’ outline for “SUCCESS” from Made to Stick: “simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, stories that sell.”


Managing Director, UCAN*

RAP Index is an actionable intelligence software service customizable and specific to a given organization, association or company. It was developed by advocacy experts for advocacy professionals and uses a breakthrough survey tool with a patentpending scoring process to decisively identify and measure the Relationships, Advocability and Political capital of an organization’s stakeholders, to find key relationships with influential policy makers and gauge their ability and willingness to engage. In short, the RAP Index finds their best messengers it makes the process much more efficient. Another huge opportunity is the RAP index recently announced that it has secured an investment from Crest Capital Ventures. The multi-year funding allows the RAP Index to aggressively expand its sales and marketing efforts nationwide, add additional software programmers to continually develop new features, and execute its strategy to make RAP Index a must-have software solution for advocacy. In a politically charged time, this company has some great potential.


For more from Business Black Box visit

The first line of this pitch is a good one it’s punchy and attention grabbing and it has me intrigued about the “so what” I expect to follow. The second line starts off strong with the “right person/right message/right way theme” but then the message becomes murky. The pitch seems to assume a context that hasn’t yet been provided to the reader so its not immediately clear what “letters” the pitch refers to, or who “the official” might be. The next line helps bring some focus regarding the product that will be introduced, but its still not obvious who the “influencers” are who are being targeted. Its not until halfway into the second paragraph that it becomes clear that the product is designed to help identify relationships with elected officials.

Owner, Margin Holdings

*Speed Pitch feedback is provided by investors and members of the Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN).

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box




nthusiasm, initiative, teamwork, curiosity, and a creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial vision are all qualities that employers today are looking for in their employees. These are the same qualities that make for good entrepreneurs. Neuroscience teaches us that the foundations of these traits are built in the first five years of life, meaning it is vital that parents with young children focus on building these business skills even before they send their children to kindergarten. Just as important as the academic knowledge are the social and emotional skills that contribute to building good teammates and entrepreneurial risk-takers.


There is no shortage of activities that parents can engage their children in to help them develop these crucial skills early in life: Most importantly, parents need to read to their children every day, ideally for no less than 20 minutes, and starting in infancy. Developing a strong vocabulary, learning how to make sounds, understanding and telling stories, and developing an awareness of print are all essential to forming a strong foundation for literacy, necessary both in business and in life. The South Carolina State Library has a number of excellent resources including South Carolina Day by Day, a family literacy

FOSTERING INNOVATION IN OUR YOUNGEST ENTREPRENEURS activity calendar that suggests literacy activities for each day of the year that parents can do with their kids. Visit to access these great ideas. Kids learn by moving, touching, and doing, making play vitally important to a child’s healthy development. For instance, singing, talking, and imitating with babies helps them learn social skills and language. By playing with sand and water, preschoolers learn math skills such as measurement. Dramatic play teaches children teamwork, creativity, and language skills- all essential to achieve success in the business world. Creativity is a valuable entrepreneurial skill and can be encouraged in children from a very early age. Parents can nurture this key entrepreneurial skill by displaying colorful print materials in an infant’s room, providing toddlers with plenty of movement and musical activities, and answering the open-ended questions of preschoolers and encouraging them to make up stories or engage in dramatic play. Parents should let their children play freely, praise their children’s attempts at creativity, and provide them with activities that allow for a wide variety of experiences with art, music, drama, puzzles, and reading. Cultivating selfexpression in young children is vital not only for the development of their personality, but for imparting important, valuable skills for business and entrepreneurship. Constructing the foundation of entrepreneurship starts early in life and necessitates a strong start during the pivotal early childhood years. Parents, child care providers, business leaders, and other community stakeholders must recognize that the key to building a competitive workforce and a prosperous 21st century economy in South Carolina begins with strong investments in our children and a smart approach to their development during ages zero to five.

For more on this topic visit

About the author... Joe Waters was named Associate Director of the Institute for Child Success in May 2011 after completing a year and a half of pastoral ministry at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors, South Carolina. A Greenville native and graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Furman University in 2005 and his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University in 2009. At Furman, Joe was selected for membership in the Quaternion Club, Phi Alpha Theta, and Omicron Delta Kappa. Joe has been actively engaged in the South Carolina through various United Way initiatives in Greenville and through his active support of programs serving young children and the elderly in Williamsburg County. Joe oversees the Institute’s legislative and corporate advocacy programs and communications.

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box








Anderson CVB

Barnes & Noble | Haywood Rd


Barnes & Noble | Woodruff Rd

Carolina Art Gallery

C hapman Cultural Center Hub-Bub ShowRoom Spartanburg Chamber

GREER Greer Chamber

Commerce Club Greenville Chamber Michelin on Main NEXT Innovation Center Stax Omega Swamp Rabbit CafĂŠ


12 55 1 2

er a ea




ere e u



ea er

urt ar ra


ete ree







t •


e •

e e tu ur a


arr tt •








• er t

u t

e ter •

e r e • ar e



ter at

a e ter •


e t


IBC Qua t












e u





20 7


at tr e


tru ture a e te

49 ater





e •

• •

A Multimedia Celebration of Downtown Greenville

e t • e



• e • r

Look for us online

ea •

Q2 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit




For more from Business Black Box visit


t was a reaction I didn’t expect. A tear running down the side of her face. Then another. This was real emotion flooding out as soon as I asked the question: What does mentoring young people mean to you? “It’s hard to talk about,” she says, fighting back emotion. “I can’t put into words how much this means to me…how much it touches me, working with these kids.” Collecting herself, she thinks of an example: “Probably working with the Mauldin High School kids. They were in a competition with a rival school to raise money. Every year they compete, and every year they had lost. For seven years they had never won. They didn’t think it was even possible. They had no real faith or confidence in themselves to win anything.” The hardest part, for Aiken, was helping them believe in themselves. “I worked with the student council,” she said, “to get the kids motivated, energized. We had to get them to believe that they really could do something meaningful—that they could win. We pulled together and worked hard and got the students to believe in themselves.” Then, with a huge smile, still fighting tears, she goes on. “They won. And I can’t tell you what that meant. When they unveiled the winning school at the halftime of a basketball game, the entire place went crazy. The stands emptied, everyone rushed the court cheering…it was an amazing moment. It meant everything to them,” she explained. “These kids had never won at anything. They had almost given up. So here they are—cheering, smiling, hugging each other. They did it. They did it themselves. Because they had the courage to believe in themselves, to believe that something good was possible.” The image I’d had of Heidi was probably similar to that of most of us: an outgoing, dynamic, friendly radio personality who is dialed into the upstate community and involved in a number of civic and charitable activities. But that doesn’t tell the real story. Not by a long shot. What I hadn’t accounted for was the intensity of her passion to genuinely help others—particularly children, teenagers and young adults who have faced various struggles in their lives. A mentor in the truest sense, that’s why she established The Beach Ball Foundation in 2005. Beach Ball is a charitable organization dedicated to “changing the lives of children through education and the arts.” Its signature fundraising event—The Beach Ball—is held each summer at the Hartness Estate in Greenville, SC. What was originally a small backyard gathering has grown, in just a few years, into a hugely successful fundraiser—with dozens of food and beverage stations, live entertainment, an auction, dancing, fireworks and more. Oh…and The Foundation has raised more than $2 million in just seven years. For Heidi, it’s all about the kids, and making a positive impact on their lives. After all, her life has not been without its own challenges. Growing up as an Army brat—living all over the world—and later as a single working mother, Heidi has had to overcome a lot. But through a combination of faith, hard work and determination, she has become a role model and true champion for kids and teens. She says it best: “Sometimes all these kids need is for someone, anyone, to believe in them—and then like magic, anything is possible.” -by Charles Richardson


Q2 2012 // Business Black Box

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

Business Black Box - Q2 - 2012  

Business Black Box Q2, 2012 issue

Business Black Box - Q2 - 2012  

Business Black Box Q2, 2012 issue