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I S S U E . . .


In My Words: Nigel Robertson

E is for education




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Spartanburg Rises

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

A New Class of Entrepreneurs


Elevate your Game

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Q3/2012 E V E R Y

I S S U E . . .

Something New: High-Tech Dining

Trailblazer: Dan Gubitosa






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What Matters: Maxim Williams


Next Gen: Jeff Plumblee


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11 Questions Betsy Fleming

Now accepting applications for Fall 2012! Clemson University Master of Business Administration Wanted: Leaders with entrepreneurial mindsets — trailblazers; business renegades. Those who see challenges as opportunities and rush head long to meet them with creativity, skill and passion. · 55 E Camperdown Way · Greenville, SC 29601 · 864-656-3975






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




Andy Coburn John DeWorken Leslie Hayes Todd Korahais Evelyn Lugo Josh Overstreet Charles Richardson Ravi Sastry Tony Snipes Alison Storm Geoff Wasserman Terry Weaver

DESIGN GRAPHIC DESIGNER Catherine Roberts ART DIRECTOR Lisa Worsham SENIOR DESIGNER Chris Heuvel PHOTOGRAPHY Wayne Culpepper, Fisheye Studios Nill Silver Photography TRAFFIC COORDINATOR Christina Zoha

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 3) 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.


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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

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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, ywca

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. matt dunbar, managing director, upstate carolina angel network

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



Setting Fire n the past few years, we’ve seen a number of movements. The Occupy movements, the Arab Spring, and the Tea Party come to mind as just a few. Among all those “movements,” there’s been a lot of commentary about how they get started. And I’ve noticed, in all my media absorption, that one common theory on how movements get started is that they “catch fire.” It’s a good analogy, I guess—the idea that it only takes a spark to set something in motion that can, in essence, change the entire environment around it. Except for one thing: I’m not a firm believer in spontaneous combustion. Things don’t catch fire unless someone sets the fire to begin with. Take a local, growing event like Bovinova, as an example. Many of you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about, but those of you who do are probably fans. (It’s not likely that there’s an in-between on this.) Bovinova, now having just finished its second year, is, for all intents and purposes, a caveman-esque outdoor barbeque.This year, in the “Barn Yard Burn,” 10 chickens, three turkeys, three sheep, three goats, three pigs, a cow and a llama all met their demise for the purpose of filling the bellies of the approximately 500 guests who showed up for the weekend. It was a BYOK (bring your own knife) event and it was highly successful. Here’s the thing, though. Bovinova started because a handful of local business owners got together and decided they wanted to do something that few people in the U.S. were doing. It was rare to see someone attempt to roast a steer in its entirety. So when Jeff Banister saw it demonstrated on the Food Network TV Show “No Reservations,” he decided he wanted to bring it to Greenville. The self-challenge turned into a friendsand-family cookout that spanned two days, but before it was all said and done, it took on a life of its own. There was swag. There were posters. A Facebook group. There was a fire crew. Bands to play over the weekend. Fire breathers to entertain. In 2012, a few thousand dollars were raised, each, for two charities, and 500 people gathered together over a ton of meat—all because a handful of men wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before. They didn’t simply wait for something cool to “catch” and join in. They actually—and quite literally—set a fire. The kicker: there was a fan base before there was an event. The event solidified that fan base and allowed it to grow. That’s the way to start a movement. Find your passion. Ignite that passion in others. Then, watch what happens. For the Bovinova 2.0 crew, it meant two nights without sleep, two (probably more) days of a lot of heat and a lot of meat, and endless more in preparation. No one made money off of it (unless you consider Wounded Warriors and Spartanburg Methodist College, who were the two beneficiaries of the money raised). Apparently, the trick to setting fire is to already have a fire burning inside you. Your passions create the fire that others will be drawn to. Then, hopefully, it catches on.

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

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Dear IT Companies University MBA Programs Insurance Companies Pro Sports Teams Golf Courses

Thank you, but the position has been filled. In April 2012, Business Black Box made the decision to offer category exclusivity to our advertising partners. Our readers don’t want our pages filled with 60 percent advertising like those other publications. After all, isn’t separating yourself from your competitors why you advertise in the first place?


Don’t let your competitors lock you out. Give us a call today.

(864) 281-1323 X. 1010 | INFO@INSIDEBLACKBOX.COM




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Production Hours


Individual Photographs Used

It’s hard to truly capture, in one image, the magnitude of some stories. Take, for example, our cover article this issue.


Spartanburg is facing a revolution—not just an idea that is taking roots, but a whole new generation of leadership that is working in collaboration with the leaders who have set a vision for growth. It’s passion for ideas—art, health, business and revitalization—that is fueling the fire that is leading Spartanburg in their fight for greatness.

Photoshop and Illustrator Layers

To illustrate this, we pulled in four of Spartanburg’s leaders as pillars in the areas of economic development (Kennedy), entrepreneurship (Hahn), the arts community (Teter) and philanthropy (Barnet), placed into an iconic style reminiscent of political revolutionary posters to portray the strength behind this movement.

original photo

posterize filters applied

desaturated layer to reveal black values

final vector styles added




Chris Heuvel

Wayne Culpepper Fisheye Studios

Mitch Kennedy, Steven Hahn, Betsy Teter, Bill Barnet





Between the Lines




The Greenville Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Small Business Owners’ Forum in order to bring together local small business owners in order to provide education opportunities to help make their businesses stronger through panel discussions, speakers, and open dialogue between owners. Presentations from experts in the fields of marketing, sales, people management, operations, technology, finance and legal will give small business owners the tools they need to operate at 100 percent. The event is open to chamber members and small business owners only.

What we read: Five Temptations of a CEO, by Patrick Lencioni

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The Gist: According to Lencioni, there are five struggles that every CEO faces, that determine his or her effectiveness, successfulness, and employeremployee relationships. The book walks through the five and gives some concepts of different approaches. How it’s Written: This is a short, fast read—in part because of actual length, but in part because, as opposed to many other business reads out there, it’s written in a “fable” form, with a storyteller’s narrative. It’s a different format that works well for Lencioni. Great if: You’re a CEO or other leader (do you have

to manage/guide/lead/direct anyone? Then this is for you) who has noticed issues within your company and aren’t sure where to start looking for the problem, much less the solution. (Spoiler alert: sometimes, the problem is you.)

Don’t miss: Chapter 7: The Third Temptation. Really, you don’t want to miss any of this book, but out of all the things we hear from business owners and other leaders out there, this is the hardest lesson to learn. No spoiler alert needed here, but let’s just say that this is a hard lesson learned for a lot of people—even us. Our Read: Great book if you’ve reached a plateau, have a hard time making decisions or have hit a rut in your day-to-day business. It’s a quick read, so we’d recommend it across the board. 14

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

What: Small Business Owners’ Forum Where: Greenville Chamber of Commerce When: August 8, 2012, 11:30 a.m.

FOR MORE INFO: Claudia Wise at (864) 239-3728.



WHAT: Upstate Vision Forum WHERE: Tri-County Technical College, Pendleton WHEN: September 6, 2012, 3 p.m. Hosted by Ten at the Top, this forum is a part of a larger series designed to continue discussions about planning for the future of the Upstate. The topic for this event will be “Changing Needs of Our Growing Senior Population.” Forum is free and open to the public; a networking reception will follow the forum. FOR MORE INFO: (864) 283-2315 or visit the website:


Phone Facts Because of the ease of access that smartphones and apps provide to information, a shift is occurring in communication and information gathering. People are becoming more adept at real-time, instantaneous problem solving and research than ever before. In 30 days, 70 percent of cell phone users, 86 percent of smartphone users, and 62 percent of the adult population in America have used their phones in a manner being called a “just-in-time” use or looking up information on the fly using a cellphone.




have scheduled a meeting or get-together

35% have solved unexpected problems that occur throughout the day

30% have used them to locate a business to go to such as a restaurant


used them to settle disputes and arguments

23% looked up the score of a sports event

20% have used them to get traffic information and help them find the best route to destination

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Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards— and living up to them—is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it.


used them in an emergency situation * Information provided by the Pew Internet & American Life Project


Q3 2012 // Business Black Box






Force One

ForceOne Solutions has an objective to be your Partner of choice for Quality Services. Any company can offer a service, whether it be engineering a product or inspecting a part. Our intention is to bring a culture to the table that ensures product integrity and one that is safe – for the comfort and confidence of our families. Our Vision is to be recognized as the market leader of Technical and Operational Services

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We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.



Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

Call For Entries

The InnoVision Awards Program is seeking entries for their 2012 InnoVision Awards. These awards seek to showcase and celebrate the latest technological innovation in the Upstate and Midlands, all the while creating opportunities for your work to be exposed to the local business community. Awards will be given at the 14th Annual InnoVision Awards dinner on November 7, 2012. Featured categories include: • Technology Development • Technology Application • Innovation in Education • Sustainability • Community Service • Small Enterprise • Dr. Charles Townes Individual Achievement. You can download the application from and email the application in to info


KENTWOOL THE LIMITED EDITION USA SOCK manufactured by kentwool pickens, sc

for more visit Photo by Nill Silver Photography

From S.C. to the World



n April 5, 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, became federal law. The Act made changes to federal securities law designed to make it easier for businesses to raise money through securities offerings. While we don’t have the space to review the entire Act, here are the three key JOBS Act provisions related to “private placements,” securities offerings that are not required to comply with all of the SEC filing and other requirements applicable to a public offering. 1. Changes to the Rule 506 prohibition against general solicitation or advertising. The most common form of private placement is an offering made in accordance with SEC Rule 506. Prior to the JOBS Act, Rule 506 completely prohibited the use of general solicitation or general advertising in Rule 506 offerings. Under the JOBS Act, this prohibition will not apply to a Rule 506 offering, provided that all purchasers of securities in the offering are “accredited investors” (as defined under SEC rules). Companies will need to be careful because the securities law anti-fraud rules will apply to any solicitation or advertising, and companies will need to comply with rules that the SEC is going to issue describing measures companies must take to verify that all purchasers are “accredited investors.” Note that this change to Rule 506 is not effective until the SEC formally amends Rule 506, which is supposed to occur within 90 days after the enactment of the JOBS Act.



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. Crowdfunding. The “crowdfunding” provisions of the JOBS Act create a new form of private placement designed to assist in raising seed funding in small amounts, including offerings conducted through the internet. To use these new crowdfunding rules, (i) a company cannot sell more than $1 million of securities within 12 months; (ii) the total amount sold to any single investor within 12 months cannot exceed specified limits based on the investor’s annual income and net worth; (iii) the sale of securities must be handled by a broker or “funding portal” that meets requirements to be established by the SEC; and (iv) the company must comply with certain informational and other requirements to be developed by the SEC. Of critical importance, offerings that comply with the crowdfunding rules are exempt from state securities registration requirements (although state antifraud laws still apply). The crowdfunding rules cannot be used until the SEC issues implementing regulations, which are supposed to be issued within 270 days after enactment of the JOBS Act. 3. $50 million “small” offering exemption. The JOBS Act also requires the SEC to create a new private placement exemption for the sale of up to $50 million of securities within a 12 month period. Among other important features, general solicitation or advertising will be permitted in such offerings and, if offered or sold only to “qualified purchasers” (as defined under SEC rules), such offerings will be exempt from state securities registration requirements (but not anti-fraud rules). We will have to wait until the SEC issues the regulations for this exemption to see how useful it will be because the SEC is authorized to impose other terms and conditions, including requiring offering statements and filing of annual financial statements.

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

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The Tax Man Cometh:

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Sure, we’re all familiar with taxes, but aside from the annual payout that we each face Uncle Sam with every April, our businesses have even more taxes (income, unemployment, etc.) What’s your biggest issue with the tax man, and why? And what do you see as a possible solution?


Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

S TAT U S “As businesses and individuals, it seems we’re paying taxes everywhere we turn and the government (federal, state and local) is only getting better at hiding those taxes. Ignore, for the moment, income tax, sales tax, property tax, gas tax, telephone tax, airline ticket tax and others like them. Just look at the employee pay stub and what’s NOT on it. In addition to the employee’s federal and state income tax, Social Security and Medicare we’re all familiar with, there’s employer portion of Social Security and Medicare, S.C. Contingency Assessment, S.C. unemployment and federal unemployment. When taxes and benefits are factored in, it can easily cost twice as much to employ someone than what they take home in their paycheck.


“To be clear, I understand that there is a level of taxation required to deliver the certain services that are best delivered through government. However, from my perspective as a business owner, I have three major complaints related to the way we apply taxes. First, the methods are random, or perhaps better stated inconsistent, which creates complexity. Second, the future, even near future, tax policy is too unpredictable. And finally, this combination of unpredictability and inconsistency results in unintended consequences. I would much prefer simplicity and consistency.”

Andrew Kurtz

President & CEO, Vigilix

I believe everyone should be paid these monies and then be required to write a check to the government. When people realize just how much is taken from them, maybe they’ll truly begin to force our politicians to stop spending beyond our means.”

CEO, Virtual Connect Technologies

“When people realize just how much is taken from them, maybe they’ll truly begin to force our politicians to stop spending beyond our means.”

“My biggest issue is spreading Unemployment Tax payments over 12 months instead of the first few months of each calendar year. Paying tens of thousands of dollars a month for three or four months and then zero the rest of the year is tough. If I pay, say, $48,000 in Unemployment Tax, I would much rather see it at $4,000 a month instead of $12,000 for four months. That $8,000 additional fee per month creates cash flow problems. Plus, we are front-loading the system. It is not really due by April. The bottom line is that it would improve stability of businesses, would show a more normalized P&L statement to banks and creditors. Another point is the rate adjustment. When there is an adjustment to Unemployment Tax like we had during the Great Recession we were all shocked with the new bill that is crammed basically into the first quarter. Spreading it out over time reduces shocks to the entire economic system.”

David Pence

“From a business perspective, South Carolina overall has competitive nationwide tax structure and a wonderful business climate, but when compared to our local neighboring states we are at a tax disadvantage. Other states are our true competitors when it comes to recruiting new headquarters or facility expansions, and often provide lower millage rates for property taxes which impact hightech companies that are typically more asset intensive.

To compound the existing challenges, the upcoming expiration of the Bush administration reductions will significant increase both business and personal tax rates across the board. This could prevent an entrepreneur from potentially starting up that next new exciting business, delay or reduce a company’s ability to continue investing for growth, or worse seek to relocate their company to a new environment with a better tax structure altogether. Unfortunately our legislators have failed to bring spending under control, with government spending at epic proportions ($16.4 trillion) and the national debt growing to what is now the same percent of GDP as European nations such as Greece and Spain. This fiscal irresponsibility makes it challenging for businesses and individuals to place their trust in government demand for higher taxes, since the only answer each time we break the budget promise continues to be, ‘Brother, can you spare another Trillion?’ Perhaps it might be time for our government to consider adhering to the same budget limits as private industry and individuals.”

CEO, Acumen IT

Jason Premo

CEO, ADEX Machining Technologies

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box


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David Setzer










ant to become 10 percent richer without doing any more work? Several columns ago we talked about why growth is important to your company. First, it’s difficult to hold a company at steady state. It’s either growing or shrinking, and if you have to pick one of the two the answer is obvious. Secondly, it’s about the long-term value of the company. Growing companies command higher valuations than shrinking companies, even on the same earnings or free cash flow base. But let’s ask, “growth of what?” Earnings, that’s what. The dot-com bubble of the late 2000’s was fueled by many companies who “drank the Kool-Aid,” proclaiming the world had changed—it was all about revenue growth and profitability didn’t matter. Both public and closely-held companies bought into this idea, fueling some insane valuations of public companies, particularly in the internet technology sector. In the resulting sell-off, the NASDAQ index dropped 75 percent between 2000 and 2003. Many companies, such as, failed completely. So, earnings matter. In fact, it may be the top three things that matter (earnings, earnings and earnings) in the long term value of your company, and growth in earnings is what you need to be focused on. Let’s say you want to grow your earnings modestly, by perhaps 10 percent per year. How would most companies do that? Usually by growing revenues 10 percent/year and assuming that variable


DON’T FORGET MARGIN & EARNINGS costs stay in line and fixed costs grow at a much lower rate, if at all. That conventional wisdom, however, is not the only approach, and may not be the right one in a growing economy (which we’re in, despite tons of newsprint to the contrary). What’s the other option? Raise prices.Yes, raise prices. Let’s look at how much easier it is to grow earnings through price rather than revenue. Let’s say your business is doing well—producing a 10 percent pre-tax net on sales. So, for $1,000,000 in sales, you clear $100,000. In that model, to grow your net profit $10,000, you have to grow your sales $100,000, right? That’s finding 10 percent more orders, using 10 percent more labor, 10 percent more raw materials, and increasing your working capital by 10 percent. Working 10 percent harder. Let’s consider the alternative—a one percent price increase. Sell the same $1,000,000 worth of product for $1,010,000, and what happens? The $10,000 price increase drops all the way to the bottom line—friction free. No more labor, no more material, and nobody has to work any harder. Yet your net profit increases by 10 percent. What if some customers won’t buy at the higher price? One clever business owner did the math really quickly, noting that if you raised prices three percent and lost 20 percent of your volume, you’d still be ahead. How? At $800,000 in revenue, you’d expect to make $80,000. With a price increase of three percent on the remaining $800,000 in revenue, you’re selling it for $824,000, and your net becomes $104,000. With 20 percent less of everything required. Now, this is an admittedly simple example. What about a real-world example? A friend of mine recently raised prices five percent across the board in a $9 million business. Think about that. With one mouse click, he increased his and his partner’s earnings by $450,000 a year­—forever! And it stuck. He didn’t lose any customers. So, when you think about growth, think about earnings in the same thought.That’s what you want to be growing. And think about price as a big lever in that strategy.

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About the author...

Terry Weaver is the CEO of Chief Executive Boards, International and 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.

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box


Photos by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

I was sitting in a doctor’s office at the University of Miami.The head of Neurology was talking to my parents, doing everything he could to break the news to my father as delicately as he could. My father, with a smile on his face, began joking with the doctor with the same sense of humor that he faced everything in life with. I, however, wasn’t smiling. I was staring into space, in shock, my mind spinning. It was taking every ounce of my being to keep my eyes from swelling up with tears. Did the doctor just tell my dad that he has ALS? How could that be? My father was one of the healthiest people I knew. He ate right, he took his vitamins—he was a happy, healthy, 70-year-old man. Every morning the first thing he would do is get up, make breakfast, and then jog around the block to the tennis court, where he would spend the next few hours playing. Like so many other older couples, my parents retired and moved to Florida to escape the cold winters of Ohio. But in fact, it was a warm December day on the tennis court that my dad first noticed that something wasn’t right. He was in a match with his buddy and for some reason his foot wasn’t keeping up. After stumbling and falling a few times, my dad called it a match. I will never forget that phone call from him. “Nigel,” he said, “It’s weird; my foot feels like its dragging. It doesn’t hurt but it’s really making me feel off-balance.”

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ALS stand for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. According to the ALS Association, the disease (also known as Lou Gehrig’s) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually lead to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.

In other words, just as my dad experienced, your mind tells your muscles to move, but the signal gets lost because the nerves are confused—for lack of a better word. As time goes by, the nerves simply start to die off, leaving the muscles without the signal they need, which ultimately causes them to become useless. This spreads throughout your body, eventually attacking your breathing muscles or your heart, causing death. Making it even worse is that your mind stays as sharp as it ever was, so you know everything that is happening as time goes by. There is no treatment, and there is no cure... yet. But a multidisciplinary team can help manage the disease and help the patient live their best life.


Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

It was after his diagnosis, and after I came back home to Greenville, that I learned about how South Carolina was lacking in care for ALS patients. In fact, I was shocked to learn that the state didn’t even have an inter-disciplinary clinic to treat people with this horrible disease. In fact, in South Carolina, 30 percent of counties don’t even have a practicing neurologist. I became friends with a 34-year-old former golf pro named Chad Poole, who was diagnosed with ALS eight years ago. The disease has left him unable to speak, and the use of his arms and hands is extremely limited. For treatment, he and his wife leave their Greenville County home and drive all the way to Duke University or Charlotte just to be seen at an ALS Clinic. I wanted to change that. I wanted simply for people in this state to have the help they need at home—or at least close to it.

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Back before my father’s diagnosis, while doctors were conducting a long list of tests, Dr. Mary Hughes, the Chief of Neurology with the Greenville Hospital System, was helping me understand what the doctors and all those medical reports said. At the time, I hadn’t met her in person­—we only communicated via email. Still fighting my own emotions, I kept asking myself, “how did this happen to my father?” To be honest, I was angry. My prayers became tearful, one-sided shouting matches with God. I wondered, “How am I going to process everything?” and “How will I be able to take care of my father from so far away?” That is when the phone rang. “Doctor Hughes wants to meet with you.”

We arranged a meeting at her office. “I wanted to meet with you because I think you can help me with something,” she says, as she told me that GHS and the Neurology department was ready to move to a whole new level of patient care. From there, the goal of a state-of-the-art clinic for neurological diseases was not just an idea, but a serious possibility. Our team of two began to grow. Once people heard my father’s story and found out what we were doing, they wanted to be a part. Call it “ironic” if you want, but what happened next was another sign from God. At one of our many meetings, Dr. Hughes’ right hand lady and part of the clinic team, Michelle Shain, came up to me and told me about a woman named Barbara Robertson, who had started an ALS clinic in Florida in honor of her father. It so happened she lived in Greenville and Michelle said Barbara wanted to help us in any way she could. We came to find out­that the clinic that Barbara Robertson started was none other than the Kessenich Family ALS clinic—the very place where my father got his diagnosis and where he was currently going for treatment and clinic trials. I thought to myself, out of all the places in the world the fact that these two family stories have come together like this can only be thing. God.

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box



Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

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Hughes, Shain, Robertson and myself flew down to Miami to see how the clinic operated first hand and get ideas on what we needed to do to bring this type of care to Greenville. The clinic team got support from the top of Greenville Hospital System, all the way down. While our mission started as an ALS Clinic, it quickly became a place to treat those with a list of neurological disorders. Our goal became to build a place where people suffering from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke and other disorders could also get the care they need. Because of the size and scope of the care GHS provided, we knew everything we needed was already in place. But then came the biggest challenge: How do we pay for it? For well over a month we brain-stormed ideas on how to come up with the millions needed to run a clinic and help the amount of people that would come through the doors. We had ideas, but nothing that everyone believed was the right one. That is when a random idea popped in my head. I picked up the phone and dialed a friend of mine. “Hey, Phyllis. It’s Nigel. I need your help with something.” As a journalist I had come to know State Representative Phyllis Henderson very well, and I knew she could help me come up with an idea for a fundraiser that would be different and yet rally the community support needed. I told her about my dad and what clinic team was working on. I could tell she was listening intensely but I had no idea what was about to happen next. The second I was done talking, she said “Nigel, I have a perfect idea. How about polo?” As it turns out, a small team of lawmakers and people in the state and local business community had been in Columbia talking about trying to bring polo to the Upstate. After Representative Henderson talked to her team, we set up a meeting in Greenville and the Polo Classic was born. On May 21st, 2012, one year and nine days after my fathers diagnosis with ALS, I found myself standing on the Hopkins Family Farm in Simpsonville—the site of the brand-new Upstate Polo Classic—for the official press conference to announce the project and the event. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched Michael Riordan, the CEO of the Greenville Hospital System, announce the first ever Polo Classic which would first be held on October 12, 2012, and would serve as a yearly fundraiser for the GHS Neurological Institute. I looked around at the team of people who helped make this happen and my soul welled up giving thanks to God.

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The doors to The GHS Neurological Institute may not open in time to help my father, but I know when they open they will help so many others, who truly need it.

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box




id you know America could lose over 20 percent of its exports to Europe if the E.U. does not maintain the debt crisis for Greece based on the austerity programs that were implemented? This is a sobering fact for something that seems so far from the Upstate. Pay now or pay later; this is a real problem that must be corrected and fixed for long term global economic growth. But how did Greece get into this mess? Under the Maastricht Treaty, E.U. member states were supposed to take steps to limit deficits and deficit spending. Greece managed to avoid this through currency and credit derivative structures. In early 2010, concern grew over the rapidly increasing Greek debt. E.U. leaders pointed fingers at everyone but themselves, which put serious doubt on the viability of the euro. Soon, the Greek government requested financial assistance from the EU/IMF. This assistance came in the form of high interest loans in April of 2010. The initial €45 billion euros was not enough and another €110 billion euros bailout was approved in concert with harsh austerity measures. This caused downgrade of Greek sovereign debt to BB+ (“junk”) and share price fell worldwide. Unfortunately, things continued to deteriorate; in June 2011, Greek sovereign debt was downgraded


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.


to CCC-, which is as low as it gets.The parliament could not agree to further terms that would enable another bailout. Then, on October 27, 2011, an agreement was reached by Eurozone leaders and the IMF to accept a 50 percent write-off of some of Greek debt. Many saw this as distraction to cover up the true scale of the Greek problem. So where are we today? The Greeks are not taking the bad medicine that is needed; they have an unemployment rate of 21.7 percent, the GDP growth rate is -6.2 percent, and the average net salary is equivalent to $12,300, with an inflation rate of 1.9 percent. The country is poised to default on the current debit, which would cause a similar bank run we experienced in 2008 on every government institution in Europe and the U.S. Greek bank holders would pull out of the Euro Zone and move back the drachma—which in theory regains power for the country to print their own money and use inflation as a way out of debt. Buckle your seatbelt; we are going to be in for a very bumpy ride for the next two-to-five years.

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There are challenges that come along with being the “best of the best.” But trailblazers like Dan Gobitosa recognize that the “best”is yet to come.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios


TRAILBLAZER. A new vision for a company can be a tricky thing. First, you need people casting and sending that vision forward. Secondly, you need capable leadership and employees to carry it out. This can be a difficult thing to do, especially when your vision involves changing the strategy for an existing business. Living most of his life in New Jersey, Dan Gubitosa quickly became an asset to BMW with his accounting and quantitative analysis background. Not one to be pigeonholed, he began to get marketing and advertising experience when he became the Marketing and Operations Controller, a position he held for eight years. While employed in that capacity, Gubitosa unknowingly laid the groundwork for his own future as he helped establish the BMW Performance Center in Greenville. Little did he know that he would not only come to love the Upstate region, but that he would soon move down to run the very group he was helping get off the ground. “You’ve got to see this; it’s a beautiful area,” he would tell his wife. Already in love with the area and familiar with the Performance Center, it was a no-brainer to take the position of director of the Performance Center and Driving School, now seven years in history. Originally internally-focused for BMW employees, and used as a training facility for driving and technical skills such as maintenance and painting, the Vision had changed to extend its reach to the public. Given the distance the center has from BMW Corporate in New Jersey, it was—in a sense—isolated as its own business entity. People didn’t naturally think of travelling to Upstate South Carolina to drive BMWs or test out new models. But while it was daunting to some, Gubitosa saw it as an opportunity to be creative and to begin bringing in loyal customers. “We make a great product, and we know it,” he says.“The question was: what’s the best way to showcase it?”

Gubitosa knew the only way the new focus of the performance center would catch on was if the Greenville and Spartanburg communities embraced and supported them. “Whether you’re networking with your community or your networking with your customers, it’s all about developing good relationships,” he says of his then-new focus. His first major challenge was how he would get the word out about the new center. One of their first major customerfocused programs the center offered was for corporate retreats. Offering state-of-the-art

“If I ever leave the Performance Center, I want to leave it in better shape.” conference rooms for business meetings and seminar training, as well as half-day driving on the course for entertainment, they quickly began to compete with golf as the best thing to do on a retreat. Today, the center offers a variety of programs geared to the public. They offer driving classes that not only hone certain driving skills but they give an immersive driving experience designed to create excellent drivers. They also have classes and programs for teenagers learning how to drive and have a goal of instilling good habits and driver education into the new drivers. One such habit the group is adamant about teaching is the dangers of texting and driving at the same time. He also helped create motorcycle training programs to instruct bikers to become better drivers, and also to showcase BMW’s own bikes.

“We just wanted to complete the product line and show that motorcycles are represented, too.” In addition to that, the center still offers its services to BMW—unveiling new models, providing technician training, and as an employee service center. Especially for those coming to the area from outside of the Upstate and South Carolina, Gubitosa makes it a point to show off the area that he fell in love with. He makes sure downtown and other attractions such as the Peace Center and local hotels are offered to his patrons. He even had one of the three-day mountain ride destination changed from Asheville to Greenville to further cement his commitment to this area. Still, with all that work, its the numbers that speak the loudest in Gubitosa’s favor. Seven years ago, the Performance Center would see four to five thousand “customers” a year. Today, that number is more like 15 to 16 thousand yearly, with the business and customers tripling since Gubitosa took the reigns. But that’s not all. Around 4,000 cars are seen through the employee service center each year. But more than that, 75 percent of the people who come in to the center are actually from outside of South Carolina, and with them comes plenty of commerce and attention for the both the center and Greenville and Spartanburg communities. Gubitosa tacks it up to what he calls “transformation leadership.”This philosophy is empowering the most people to get the job done as creatively and excellently as possible. He actively seeks to empower those working for him to get the best out of them by using their skills and gifts in the best possible ways. “If I ever leave the Performance Center, I want to leave it in better shape.” Leaving, however, isn’t in the stars right now. With hints toward “big things” on the horizon, Gubitosa continues to look forward to creating the best possible place for both customers and employees. Q3 2012 // Business Black Box


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By Josh Overstreet



like attorneys. Really. Some of my very best friends are attorneys! Have you noticed, though, how some attorneys use a lot of words? I have worked with fantastic labor attorneys over the years, and owe much of my knowledge today to them. But I’ve also learned how easy it is to make something simple really complicated, and HR is an example. Take wheat, for instance.Want to get your daily whole grain by eating a few wheat kernels straight off the stalk? Healthy, yes… exciting? No. I like my wheat harvested, milled, mixed with some other ingredients (Do I hear sugar? Butter?) and baked into something a little more palatable—say, a cupcake, perhaps? As an HR professional, I believe that the field provides tremendous value to business and offers many tools to navigate employment issues.Yet, boiled down to the basic kernel, the point of HR is to help employers get the best use out of one of their most expensive investments—people—and get into the least amount of trouble while doing it. If we, as company owners and managers, could accomplish what we needed to do without having to hire, train, pay, incent, care for and otherwise have employees, we would. And, if we could figure out by ourselves how to hire, train, pay, incent, care for and otherwise have employees without breaking laws we didn’t know existed and entertaining all manner of drama in the workplace, we certainly wouldn’t



About the author...

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


hire HR people to help us. Previous columns have offered great information and resources to help sift through these laws and solid advice for bringing in the right people. But how do we decide what really matters? Let’s go back to our wheat and attorneys for a minute and let me share with you two quotes from former attorney colleagues that I think get to the basic kernel of what HR is all about.The first quote is, “They may go to hell, but they won’t go to jail.” This was said to an employee who protested his termination. He was angry and came for a meeting about how he had been treated badly.The employee had some valid points—some of the people involved in his termination had not been very kind—but everything had been completely legal, and, eventually, the employee was able to understand if not forgive. The moral of this story: The law does matter and finding a reliable guide who helps you stay on the right side of it is important. I have a lot of clients who are “good guys,” but the best intentions in the world won’t protect you if you are breaking an employment law. “I didn’t know,” is not a defense. “I’m doing it this way because my employee(s) asked for it,” is not a defense. “Every other company I’ve worked for (or in this industry/or this state/or whatever) does it this way,” is not a defense.The best quick resource around for employment compliance is at Be warned, however: a minute or two using their compliance tools may have you hiding under your desk while dialing your HR person on your cell with shaking fingers. I told you there was a second quote, and here it is.“People don’t sue you because you did something illegal. People sue you because they think you’ve been unfair.” Just obeying the law is not enough. It is critical to get to know your employees and, more importantly, to communicate genuinely, honestly and consistently. We avoid genuine and honest communication because we don’t like conflict; but a good HR person can help coach you through those discussions so that even the worst messages are delivered and received with respect and dignity. These two quotes were from different attorneys in unrelated organizations separated by time and distance, but together, they get to the heart of HR. Unless you are a business of one, you have employees. If you have employees, you have human resources. Are you being honest? Are you being legal? Is this a good time to make sure?

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

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ecently I heard a statistic that the Upstate has the second highest concentration of engineers per capita in the United States. If that’s the case, it may be necessary to learn how to communicate with these folks in order to be successful in your sales career. Last issue, we discussed a communication style know as kinesthetic. They’re characterized as individuals who often speak in terms of physical contact and mental connection between individuals. For example, a phrase used by kinesthetic communicators would be, “Let me wrap my mind around that,” or “I can appreciate how you feel.” Today’s issue will discuss the digital communicator. While I mentioned engineers earlier, these can also include accountants, pilots and builders. The most important thing to remember when communicating with these folks is to never explain things out of sequence. For example, do not discuss what activities have to be done on Tuesday before mentioning the tasks to be completed on Monday. The way their minds work is sequential in nature and follows a logic scheme that leads to a desired outcome. At this point, if you’re not a digital communicator, the last paragraph made you really bored and probably tempted you to turn the page. The truth is that variety and arbitrary decision-making may



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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.

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be the spice of life for many people; however, a digital communicator is frustrated by this lack of logic and needless waste of time. A great way to communicate to this group is to write down the steps in a procedure and present them in an exact order. Oftentimes, people want to get straight to the bottom line; however, this group will never get to the bottom line, if the pathway that leads there is not systematic. Think of it like a construction site: you wouldn’t pour the concrete without grading first. Prior to grading, you would collect soil samples to make sure you can build. We’ve all seen how big the Walmart Distribution Center in Laurens is and how many trucks travel through each day. They don’t randomly pick up and drop off their contents; it is all methodically laid out by design. A digital friend of mine used to be a consultant for IBM.There they had a saying: “Trust in God. All else, bring data.” Folks who are digital communicators take comfort in knowing that you are operating from a standard operating procedure. So let’s try being digital for a second—or should I say “moment?” First, review each of the words that are in bold in the above paragraphs. Do they bore you? If so, then you’re not a digital communicator. That’s okay. Only 20 percent of the population is. Second, after you have reviewed each of the underlined words, figure out how you can incorporate them into your sales presentation, should you find yourself presenting to someone who communicates without emotion, is completely fact-driven and does not go straight to the bottom line. Lastly, if you have used the underlined words and presented your products or services in a sequential order, you have gone a long way in doing business with a digital communicator. Next time, we’ll discuss another style of communication that won’t be annoyed by the fact that this sentence began with the word “next,” but the paragraph began with the word “lastly.”

ry to teach Juan Gilbert’s oldest son Jackson addition by handing him a pile of blocks, and you’ll get a confused little boy. “It didn’t work because he would organize the blocks,” says Gilbert, 43. “He wouldn’t count them.” So, Gilbert and his wife started brainstorming other methods to teach young Jackson basic math problems. “We used a number line,” explains Gilbert. “He’d put his left hand on the two and count over three spaces to get to five. When he had to use both hands it clicked.” This is a very personal example of Gilbert’s passion—using various, often-innovative methods to educate students on their own terms. For a dozen years, innovative education has been the focus of his research and work. Dr. Gilbert, currently Ideas Professor and Chair of the Human-Centered Computing Division in the School of Computing at Clemson University, isn’t afraid to admit that he once dropped a class after failing a test. Economics 201, an undergraduate course at the University of Miami in Ohio, left Gilbert questioning his intelligence. “I was frustrated,” he recalls. “I thought ‘wow, maybe I’m not good at economics.’” Then he decided to do what few discouraged students dare to do—he reenrolled in the class, except this time it was taught by a different instructor. “I took it with someone else and did extremely well,” says Gilbert. “Based on that premise, it wasn’t that I couldn’t learn economics, but maybe it was more the person who taught it the first time wasn’t teaching it conducive to my learning.” That redefining moment launched Gilbert into what has become more than a decade of remarkable research in innovative education methods. He wrote software, then tested it for his dissertation research. The results were astounding. “When I tested this, we found significant gains in the way people learned in this environment,” says Gilbert of the computerbased instruction that utilizes multiple teaching methods to help a single student. Gilbert’s research debunks the myth that we all learn best a certain way such as visual, auditory or tactile. “What our results have shown is that theory is incorrect,” he explains. “Peoples’ learning styles change from lesson to lesson. In lesson one, visual may be best, but in lesson three, auditory or interactive may be better.” Thus, his software shifts learning methods based on student performance. Gilbert says his Adapting Instruction to Accommodate Learning Style software, called AADMLSS for short, is 70 percent complete; this summer he’ll apply for funding to finish it. Once complete, the software is first headed to a South Carolina classroom of autistic children, but Gilbert would eventually like to see it rolled out as a widespread tool. Still, he doesn’t want to replace the traditional classroom, he simply wants to enhance it. “We think classroom instruction has value and you gain from that,” he says. “Some people gain more than others.” Gilbert’s work is one example of how innovation has the potential to completely change the face of education in South Carolina.

It shouldn’t be a stretch to find Gilbert’s software in schools in the future—computers are increasingly finding a way into the most innovative classrooms across the country. These “hybrid schools” meld face-to-face instruction with online learning. In Brooklyn, the first stop for students is at an airport-style video display to find out how they’ll be receiving their instruction for the day, whether in a small group or at a laptop. In Scottsdale, educators turned an empty classroom into the iMaginarium, equipped with 36 iPads ready to teach kindergartners. Already, millions of students take one or more online classes. These are innovative methods and technologies, no doubt, but what about South Carolina? Are we doing anything to change how our system of education looks and works? We’re known for being behind the curve nationally, based on test scores and graduation rates (see our Part 1 series in the last issue of Business Black Box for a detailed account of this subject), but do we have what it takes to build the educational systems of the future?


49 T H

South Carolina ranks 17th in the nation for educational innovation, according to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress and the American Enterprise Institute. The study gave South Carolina “B” grades for online accessibility of financial data, hiring practices and its policy for removing ineffective teachers. Just 15 percent of principals in the state report that teacher unions or associations are a barrier for the removal of ineffective teachers.That’s 46 percent lower than the national average of 61 percent. South Carolina received “C” grades for use of technology, preparing students for postsecondary education and school management. While the study recognizes that South Carolina does an average job at managing schools in a way that encourages thoughtful innovation, the study found that 92 percent of teachers feel routine duties and paperwork interfere with teaching. The report doesn’t amaze John Warner, member of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee. “I don’t think public education in the U.S. is very innovative,” he says.“So I think being 17th in a culture that is not innovative isn’t impressive.” Warner goes on to describe the education system in South Carolina as “a large bureaucratic structure that absorbs a lot of money in bureaucracy and testing and never makes it to the students.” Warner is among a growing group working to find a way to ensure more money earmarked for education directly impacts students.“We’ve got to find a way to empower teachers and parents to be as innovative and creative as we expect everyone in our society to be,” he says. But S.C. State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais notes that simply calling a practice innovative doesn’t mean it’s automatically effective—in the business world this is measured by sales and demand. “If a product or service isn’t purchased or a company closes, then the product or service clearly wasn’t an effective innovation,” he says. “In education, there are scores of innovative ideas, but many times they are not evaluated by their effectiveness.” One example Zais points to is the statewide National Board Certification program that pays teachers a stipend of either $7,500 or $5,000 a year if they complete a certain certification process. “The state budget appropriates approximately $64 million on this program in the

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South Carolina ranks 17th in the U.S. for educational innovation, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

next fiscal year,” he says, “yet there isn’t any data to suggest the program is raising student achievement statewide.”While he says the program has been touted as innovative, Zais doesn’t believe it is. Still, there are new practices being put into place—all across the state— that, in many cases, are transforming the way we see lower education.

While South Carolina has no “hybrid schools” of note currently, as are found in Brooklyn and Scottsdale, right now the state boasts six entirely virtual schools, according to Jay W. Ragley from the office of the South Carolina Department of Education. As of the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year 7,742 students were enrolled in those online schools, which include Palmetto State e-Cademy, Provost Academy South Carolina, South Carolina Virtual Charter School, South Carolina Calvert Academy, South Carolina Connections Academy and South SUMMERTIME SCHOOL BELLS Carolina Whitmore School. Students enrolled in these full-time, tuition-free public schools have Warner, and many others, believe the very foundation of our principals, take all of their coursework online and earn high school diplomas.They access teachers either online or by phone. Zais says it’s a education system is built on an outdated model. “I think that we need transformational change in the way great option for teen moms, students who need to work while going to education is delivered,” he says. “We have an school, kids who are bulled as well as many others. education system that was designed over 100 “For some students, especially in middle and years ago. The people who are going to be most high school, the social pressures of a traditional successful are those who can lead that change, school setting hinder their ability to learn. Some and that’s not the way our education system is have been bullied and teased to the point where designed today.” school has become a place of frustration or Currently there are no year-round public humiliation,” says Ragley.“In a virtual classroom or schools in South Carolina, according to Zais. virtual school, those social pressures are much less.” “It’s a remnant of the agricultural model where In the past, computers increased the cost of kids were needed on farms during summer,” education, but now they have the ability to lower Zais says, whose own children attended school it by adding efficiency and reducing staff needs.The year-round. “Even agriculture has given up on decline in home values has trickled down to a loss that model. [Yet education has] persisted with in education funding, which has forced schools to it.” Although he admits it’s not a solution for do more with less.That means utilizing technology every district, it may work for some. He says the may not only be smart for test scores, but also for United States has the shortest school year of any improving the bottom line. - J O H N WA R N E R industrialized nation. However, for students enrolled in traditional Stubbornness surrounding school schedules public schools, virtual programs are limited. is often attributed to resistance to change, says Because of South Carolina state law, students can’t earn more than three credits online per year, or 12 units total toward Zais. “Too often in education those that are part of the system cannot their high school diploma, and since one credit equals one course, that imagine a structure different than that from which they have known their entire professional lives,” he says.“That’s why change must come law only allows a student to take three courses a year virtually. Zais is working with the General Assembly to lift that limitation. “He from outside the system.” Zais notes the Oconee County Superintendent was interested in doesn’t believe [students] should be limited to a set number of virtual courses,” says Ragley.“They may have a strong interest in a course that isn’t shifting the school calendar and while many people supported the offered in their traditional school, but if they have already exhausted the move, one group did not. “The biggest objection came from football coaches,” says Zais.“They were afraid that other schools would get an three credit limit, state law restricts their access to that additional course.” That’s one example of the deregulation Zais says is critical for untying unfair advantage.” And while he admits that athletics teach students the hands of superintendents, principals and educators who are trying to important skills such as team work and sportsmanship, sports can’t implement innovative ideas in schools.“You can’t drive innovation from trump academics. “There is a balance to be struck between academics and athletics, the top down,” he says. “It has to be a bottom-up initiative. One thing that works in one school may not work in another. I’m trying to remove but academics must always be the top priority,” he says. Zais says he introduced a bill that changes the mandatory school obstacles that get in the way of innovation.” In addition to that, the typical education setting is passive: students year to be based on hours, rather than days. This would give more listen, teachers lecture.And preparing children properly for the changing flexibility to superintendents who want to shift to a model where world will likely mean a major shift in education as we know it. “I summer break is cut in half from 12 weeks to six. Students would also think technology and the ability to deliver a first class education in every have a three week break in the fall and another in the spring. “That school in the state online or through CDs has the power to transform would give more flexibility to school districts,” he says. He adds that a

“I don’t think public education in the U.S. is very innovative. So I think being 17th in a culture that is not innovative isn’t impressive.”

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education,” Zais says. “But it will also transform the role of the teacher from the one who delivers content to the one who facilitates learning, and those are really different roles.” In order to start this bottom-up change, last fall Zais sent a letter to every superintendent in the state announcing his commitment to champion innovation in education. “I told them that I understand we have too many laws and regulations coming out of Washington and Columbia,” he says. “We have way too many policies and statutes that are applied across the board that limit the authority of administrators and teachers to be innovative in the classroom and school.” Superintendents who felt restricted by a certain rule were encouraged to write a letter to Zais explaining what they’d like changed and why. So far, Zais says, he’s received about half a dozen letters asking for help with everything from hiring an elementary reading teacher at an underperforming high school to offering a year-round school calendar.

year-round schedule would give children more opportunity to catch up throughout the school year if they fall behind. “Right now the only time you have to do that is summer school and by then they’re a year behind,” he says of struggling students.

SCHOOL CHANGES In the meantime, many schools are taking full advantage of summer breaks, using them as opportunities to not only educate students, but teachers as well. The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics has an important mission each summer—sharing innovative teaching techniques with about 20 teachers during high intensity summer workshops. During the school year GSSM focuses on educating around 130 students in unique ways, like using handheld data collection devices to gather real-time data in laboratory experiments. “We’re constantly looking at new things, innovative ways, to deliver instruction for students to learn science,” says Vice President of Outreach and Research Randy LaCross. “Everything we do is geared toward improving student achievement.” Then, GSSM takes what they’ve discovered and passes those lessons on to other S.C. teachers who can impact thousands of students across the state. “Any program that we develop we’re going to get it in the hands of teachers as quickly as we can,” says LaCross. “We’re an incubator. We can take an idea, bounce it around, develop it into an opportunity and deliver it.” Focusing on establishing a technically trained workforce has become a political issue. State Senate candidate and member of the Clemson University Board of Trustees, Joe Swann is making it a platform of his MICK campaign. “A technically trained workforce is necessary for South Carolina companies to grow,” says Swann, whose own background is in engineering as the founder of Integrated Power Services in Greenville. “We’re currently funding K-12 education at 1998 levels,” he says. “That’s not a smart thing to do when we’re trying to attract business to our state.” And while GSSM’s focus on science and mathematics is exactly what South Carolina needs more of in the future, the school’s graduating classes only contain about 50 students a year. Parents and students seem to see the value in a GSSM education— especially when it comes to eventually joining the workforce. At GSSM there are six student applicants for every open space. While LaCross believes some schools seem to be fearful of creativity in the classroom because it can be more difficult to measure learning, GSSM embraces it. And their track record proves it’s working. “There are a lot of people who think if you set up a classroom where students are going to be creative, they’re not going to learn anything,” he says. “I think it goes back to finding the balance between content mastery and creativity. All GSSM graduates go on to attend college with about three in five students staying in South Carolina for higher education.

“For South Carolina to be the best it can be we’ve got to develop a generation of students who are able to think creatively,” says LaCross. “Being innovative, especially in the classroom, it’s critical.” As some schools strive for innovation they’re becoming more hands-on. Greenville’s AJ Whittenberg Elementary is a thriving example of creativity in action.The school maintains an engineering focus, partnering with corporations like Michelin and Fluor to implement innovative teaching techniques and tools. Students use their fingers to complete interactive activities on giant iPad-like smart tables or they use Legos to solve real-world engineering problems. Not only are they learning basics like multiplication tables and grammar, but students focus on applying that information. For example, students recently used their knowledge of right and obtuse angles to develop a “technology” that would successfully sort three different objects like a recycling machine would do. “Engineers, along with the teachers, were facilitating students’ experience through their design process,” says Ansel Sanders, Program Director at AJ Whittenbrg. “I would say that such relevant application of knowledge, combined with the support from the engineering community, makes students better equipped to compete for, and create jobs that don’t exist. In turn, organizations see our work as particularly important to the future of their industries.” Sanders believes the stakeholders in these students’ success must be expanded to all reaches of the community. “Education is a constantly evolving and changing industry, but I’m proud of the work we’ve done here,” says Sanders. “We’re very forwardthinking.” AJ Whittenberg serves students within a one and a half mile radius of the school, but it’s also a school of ZAIS choice. Some students living outside the surrounding neighborhood attend first come, first served. That’s why last December parents camped out for as long as five days to sign their children up for open spots. By giving parents and students more options to choose the learning environment that best fits them, Superintendent Zais believes test scores, graduation rates and other issues plaguing South Carolina schools will improve. He says research shows that when parents have the responsibility to make a choice they become more committed to that choice and more involved in the school their child attends, proof he says that school choice legislation is both innovative and effective. “Children are so different, but right now we’ve got a one-sizefits-all education system. Should we be surprised that doesn’t work for too many children?” he says. “The best we can do is give people the opportunity to be innovative. If you take away the restrictions that tie their hands, people will be innovative.”

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“[Our school year is] a remnant of the agricultural model where kids were needed on farms during summer. Even agriculture has given up on that model. [Yet education has] persisted with it.”

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remember in high school, when girls would break up with guys (not me of course, but from what my friends told me, it happened), they’d have that uncomfortable conversation: “Really, you’re too good to me; I don’t deserve you; I really like you as a friend; one day you’ll thank me…it’s me, really, it’s not you.” It’s funny how, in some ways, we never grow. In an advising session with a client last week, he shared how he was struggling with a looming termination of an employee. He had long since realized the employee was clearly underperforming, there had been no signs of improvement in the midst of numerous opportunities to improve, and the department was suffering. Everyone knew the employee’s time was up. Yet, the leader was spending weeks anguishing over how to have the conversation—looking for ways, in essence, to take the burden, pain and responsibility for failure to live up to expectations off of the soon-to-be ex-employee, and to (in his words) make the break “more comfortable.” Needless to say, your spouse is probably extremely grateful for all the high school exes who made the decision to cut you loose. Funny how we struggle with those critical conversations, whether it’s in personal relationships or in business. We don’t want to be cold and uncaring, so we err on the side of long-suffering and overly compassionate and protective.



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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.

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

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Believe it or not, there’s a third option though, and it’s the one leaders are called to choose. Leaders: When you let someone go, you’re truly releasing them to begin growing and moving into their destiny. The season for you, as a leader, having stewardship and responsibility to help them grow is almost over. The final step, the great opportunity, is in that final meeting, as an opportunity to help them, and you, grow. Remember, growth isn’t comfortable; it’s messy and painful and sometimes even ugly. But, with compassion, you can release them but at the same time, share your perspective on the opportunities you see that, if they embrace them and work on their weak areas that lost them their job, could propel them to the level of success they were called to experience. After all, at some level, there were three reasons they failed: You weren’t perfect as a leader, they weren’t perfect as an employee, and opportunities for growth on both sides weren’t recognized, maximized, and capitalized upon. So in effect, your opportunity now is to take one more chance at reaffirming the incredible gifts you saw in them when you hired them. Share with them, honestly and with humility, where you failed as a leader (after all, you hired them; you thought you could lead them effectively). Encourage them to approach their next job with a different perspective: Spending more time cultivating their gift to succeed under a new leader, at a new company. What a gift to give someone. Not just the employee, but also their next boss. Imagine if everyone you hired was given that gift from his or her previous leader.




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By Josh Overstreet

While attending high school, college or any educational institution, the question for many students has been: “Why am I learning this stuff?” Of course, it is a totally valid question, because often they can’t see the real world benefit to the textbooks, lectures or projects. But Jeff Plumblee decided to not only ask the question, but to find an answer. A 2008 graduate of Clemson University in civil engineering, Plumblee began looking for the answer early in 2009. “I wanted to get involved with some sort of service project; I looked around at Clemson and really couldn’t find what I was looking for. I wanted to get some real world experience because I really didn’t feel like I was able to apply much of the stuff I was doing at that point,” Plumblee said. As he began to seek out opportunities, one of his professors put him in contact with a friend who was looking to do a water treatment plant in Haiti—prior to the massive 7.0 earthquake that would hit in 2010 and the water contamination that would follow for years after. But only

two weeks after a quick meeting in March 2009, Plumblee was heading to Haiti. “So I’d known the guy for less than a month and was a complete stranger and I ended up going to Haiti with him; my parents didn’t like that,” he said with a chuckle. The first visit to Haiti was a successful scouting and exploration trip. Just a few months later, in June, Plumblee led the first group trip—which included four other Clemson grads—to Haiti. From there the project expanded into something that would become a major focus in Jeff ’s life. “I figured this should be an interesting hobby, but little did I know that it would take up 40 hours a week or more,” he said. From that time, the Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries (CEDC), was born. The group—which is currently looking at a name change, as only part of the organization consists of engineering majors— now hosts 25 to 30 students in a class that works on real world projects for third world countries, taking three to four trips to Haiti working on the municipal water project, which

will provide filtration for Gange, a village of 20,000 northeast of Port-au-Prince. The program is funded through the local Episcopalian Diocese, with Holy Trinity Episcopal being the primary sponsor. It has taken on a business-like appearance as the program has grown with financial and advertising aspects, the actual projects, student recruitment, in addition to the actual academic side of the program. In its few short years of existence, the CEDC already has the academic community at Clemson paying attention to the impact that ‘service learning” is having on the participating students. “It’s crazy to see some of the students—they get down there and when we come back after seven to eight months they are yelling at the Haitian construction crews in Creole,” Plumblee said. Of those students, he adds, “They’ve stepped up and become some of our best workers.” The municipal water project— treatment that includes UV filtration, cartridge filtration, and chlorination— is within days of its official

dedication and is more important now than ever in Haiti with the recent cholera outbreaks. “The need is there, no matter what, the earthquake just brought it to the forefront of everybody’s minds,” Plumblee says. “But Haiti’s been in need of help for decades.” Now with the municipal water project under control, CEDC is now looking for other opportunities to use their engineering savvy to help out other areas. At 27, Plumblee is going to graduate from his Ph.D. program and will begin to look for someone to begin working with and training to replace him as project manager of CEDC. However, he will not step away from it completely and will always look for a way that he can continue to be involved in the project that became his answer to the question “Why am I learning this stuff?”

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When Jeff Plumblee, an engineering major at Clemson University, said he wanted real-world experience, he had no way of knowing that it would take him to one of the poorest countries in the world, where he would help build wells to provide clean water to small villages in Haiti. Neither did he know that as founder of the then-small group Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries, that he’d be encouraging others to do the same.




ecently I heard a statistic that the Upstate has the second highest concentration of engineers per capita in the United States. If that’s the case, it may be necessary to learn how to communicate with these folks in order to be successful in your sales career. Last issue, we discussed a communication style know as kinesthetic. They’re characterized as individuals who often speak in terms of physical contact and mental connection between individuals. For example, a phrase used by kinesthetic communicators would be, “Let me wrap my mind around that,” or “I can appreciate how you feel.” Today’s issue will discuss the digital communicator. While I mentioned engineers earlier, these can also include accountants, pilots and builders. The most important thing to remember when communicating with these folks is to never explain things out of sequence. For example, do not discuss what activities have to be done on Tuesday before mentioning the tasks to be completed on Monday. The way their minds work is sequential in nature and follows a logic scheme that leads to a desired outcome. At this point, if you’re not a digital communicator, the last paragraph made you really bored and probably tempted you to turn the page. The truth is that variety and arbitrary decision-making may


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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.


be the spice of life for many people; however, a digital communicator is frustrated by this lack of logic and needless waste of time. A great way to communicate to this group is to write down the steps in a procedure and present them in an exact order. Oftentimes, people want to get straight to the bottom line; however, this group will never get to the bottom line, if the pathway that leads there is not systematic. Think of it like a construction site: you wouldn’t pour the concrete without grading first. Prior to grading, you would collect soil samples to make sure you can build. We’ve all seen how big the Walmart Distribution Center in Laurens is and how many trucks travel through each day. They don’t randomly pick up and drop off their contents; it is all methodically laid out by design. A digital friend of mine used to be a consultant for IBM.There they had a saying: “Trust in God. All else, bring data.” Folks who are digital communicators take comfort in knowing that you are operating from a standard operating procedure. So let’s try being digital for a second—or should I say “moment?” First, review each of the words that are in bold in the above paragraphs. Do they bore you? If so, then you’re not a digital communicator. That’s okay. Only 20 percent of the population is. Second, after you have reviewed each of the underlined words, figure out how you can incorporate them into your sales presentation, should you find yourself presenting to someone who communicates without emotion, is completely fact-driven and does not go straight to the bottom line. Lastly, if you have used the underlined words and presented your products or services in a sequential order, you have gone a long way in doing business with a digital communicator. Next time, we’ll discuss another style of communication that won’t be annoyed by the fact that this sentence began with the word “next,” but the paragraph began with the word “lastly.”

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ust off I-85 in Spartanburg county, hidden within stands of trees, sits a company that, apart from its history and fame, remains a mystery to many—even those that live and work within the surrounding areas. Known for its history as one of the textile leaders of the world— even since its beginnings during the Reconstruction—time has changed it. After all, while many still connect the name “Milliken” with the textile industry, the fact is that with a deep history in patents, innovation, chemicals and research and development, Milliken is far more than just textiles. In fact, the average household will come into contact with a Milliken product around 50 times a day, estimates Tiffany Duncan, Marketing and Branding Communications Manager for Milliken. But many won’t realize that the colorants in the washable marker their children use to color are made by the same company whose newest projects include concrete cloth (unroll it, wet it, and watch the concrete set). They likely won’t realize that that same company, whose first recycling policy began in the early 1900s, was named one of the most ethical companies in the world from 2007 to 2011. With a history that began long before their first patent was filed (in 1927, for a laundry basket design), and includes everything from off-Broadway breakfast shows in New York, to the building of an arboretum of more than 3,000 trees and the first windowless factory design in history, Milliken’s present is just as diverse—production rests in equal share in four sectors: specialty fabrics, floor coverings, performance materials (rubbers and composites), and chemicals (clarifiers and colorants). With a reach that is world-encompassing, it seems odd that so many remained in the dark as to the goings-on within the huge, tree-laden campus. The secrecy that shrouded the company was necessary, to preserve the status as a world leader in the industries, and to protect the intellectual capital that continued to grow it as such. In fact, it wasn’t until recently—really, the past three or four years—that Milliken’s research and development team began to partner with other companies in the quest for better innovation and more collaboration. “We used to treat everything as if it were confidential,” says Chris DeSoiza, Vice President of Research & Development. “We have dramatically changed what we will share in terms of our capabilities and needs that are not confidential. “All good innovation companies have similar policies around how you deal with confidential information; really good innovation companies know how to leverage getting the right information about needs and wants to a broader group.” Joe Royer, Director of Technology and Development for Milliken’s Performance Products Division, agrees. “If you had gone to our website any time prior to six months ago, you would have

had a hard time figuring out what we really did,” he says. “You can go there today and you can see we are interested in composites for wind energy, and we are interested in composites for building infrastructures, and we are interested in clarified materials and silicone chemistry, and you can look up enough information to see if your interests align.” A new world full of technology, new ideas and new generations of leadership—both inside and out of Milliken’s own four walls¬— began a system of adaptation that would challenge the company that prides itself on innovation. And interestingly enough, the same changes and adaptations that were going on within the Milliken campus were going on all across Spartanburg—as the entire city found itself being challenged by a new world, a new economy, and a new generation. ot unlike Milliken, Spartanburg has a history of its own— one that hearkens back to the Revolutionary War (Morgan Square, Spartanburg’s downtown go-to location, is a reference to General Daniel Morgan, whose fame began with the famous Battle of Cowpens), and includes intricate ties with the cotton and textile industries. But over the course of the twentieth century, as more and more textile operations were sent overseas (Milliken being the exception), the city faced a major change. Having spent a lifetime setting itself up as a “hub,” ripe for industry, the area found itself in desperate need of a change of vision. “When you look at Spartanburg’s geographic position, it is being called a hub city for a reason,” says Carter Smith, Executive Vice President of the Economic Futures Group, whose primary focus is on economic development for Spartanburg County. “When you look at where it’s at—in the crossroads of two major interstates, I-85 and I-26, and you have the two major Southeast railroads that cross NCSX and Norfolk Southern—it’s kind of obvious that this is a place that you can get to other places from.” Geographically, Spartanburg remained a great option for manufacturers and distributors who had to move product or people around. So when BMW—now Spartanburg’s largest employer with more than 7,000 employees—decided to move its manufacturing division to Spartanburg in the early ‘90s, it marked the opportunity to retain and build upon Spartanburg’s deep history of manufacturing. “It was one of the game changing moments in Spartanburg,” Smith says of BMW’s move to the Upstate. Even now, most of the projects that Smith sees in the EFG pipeline are focused—up to 85 percent of everything on the table right now is manufacturing oriented. And in 2011, EFG was named one of the top 10 economic development agencies by Site Selection magazine—solidifying its place in the future. “If you look closely, what is pulling us out of the recession is manufacturing,” Smith adds. “That’s where we’re seeing the growth take place—in the manufacturing arena. And that’s where our activity is extremely strong” But interestingly enough, BMW’s move also signaled something very different for the area—the desire and the know-how of attracting international companies to the area. “I think that [BMW] took us from a small southern industrial town and set us on the global stage, where you have such a widely recognized consumer product,” he says. “We were successful and secure in that operation here.”

The success, Smith notes, gave them the confidence to keep recruiting international companies, and today, Spartanburg is home to 80 international companies from 19 countries. According to data pulled in 2011 from EFG, Germany and France represent the highest number of international companies in the area, but also represented are countries such as Sweden, South Africa, Greece, Belgium and China. t the same time that BMW was building what would soon become the automotive empire that the state would bank on (earlier this year, BMW was named the largest automotive exporter in the nation, surpassing Michigan for the first time), a community was finding its own voice. In 1995, Betsy Teter, along with a group of writers, journalists and designers, modeled their first project—the Hub City Writer’s Project—after the Depression-era Federal Writers project. “We felt that writers had a unique power to focus the community on its unique assets and to focus the community on preserving what was special about it,”Teter remembers. “We were the ones that brought back the Hub City name, a name that harkens back to all the railroads that came here at the turn of the 20th century when this was a very ambitious town and you put railroads into your town if you wanted to survive.” While the Hub City moniker had long gone unused, the name fit for the group of writers that would eventually bring about a community-wide movement and growth within the arts. “We decided that was part of our mission, to focus the community on what was traditionally special about it,” Teter says. “And, we were going to make Spartanburg a Hub City for literature, which was a really ridiculous idea. I mean we are a blue-collar, cotton mill town and we decided we were going to create a literary center here.” It was a seemingly crazy idea, but over time, the name not only stuck, but became a sort of platform that many would use. Hub City soon begat Hub-Bub, an “alternative arts initiative” that operates the Showroom, featuring live music and entertainment, as well as local, budding artists. Even outside of the Hub City group, the name became attached to riding trails, coffee shops, and farmer’s markets. But as important as a thriving arts community became to the people of Spartanburg, it was Teter’s steps into economic development that solidified her as a community leader in the growth of Spartanburg—and especially the downtown area. In 2010, Teter helped change the look and feel of downtown through a $300,000 renovation of the ground floor of the Masonic Temple, just off of Morgan Square. The community came together—quite literally— to help with the project. Architects volunteered designs and input. People from the community came together to help paint murals, set up furniture, and anything else that was needed, all as volunteers. Although Teter had found herself a home in the space (it now serves as the home office location for Hub City Writers Project, as well as Hub City bookstore, which focuses primarily on locally written and published works), she understood the need to create a fuller space that the community would not only embrace, but could also learn to thrive in. “We knew a bookstore by itself was a loser—a sure loser—so we convinced Little River Coffee, which was just a roaster at that point,

to open a coffee bar,” Teter remembers. But she didn’t stop there. She also spoke with Liz Blanchard, a baker at a few Upstate restaurants, persuading her to open her own bakery in the back of the coffee bar. Blanchard, assuming that she would run the business as a one-woman bakery, tentatively agreed, and Cakehead Bakeshop was born. Still, she credits Teter for creating the partnership wherein she could prosper. “I don’t think I ever would have done a store front like this myself,” Blanchard says. “I think it would have been too terrifying.” But she did, and almost instantly became a huge success. She hired three additional bakers to keep up, and recently celebrated the Grand Prize win of “Best Biscuit” at the International Biscuit Festival in Tennessee. Blanchard and her bakery are a success story, but she’s only one example of a new generation of leadership that is taking Spartanburg by storm. n a large conference room in the newly-constructed George Dean Johnson School of Business (known informally as “The George”), just under 100 people are gathered at 7:30 in the morning to hear an update on the city that they love. Many are young—Generation Xers and Ys dominate the room—but all types are gathered to hear community leaders speak their piece about everything from economy to economic development. At the front of the room sit three of Spartanburg’s most prominent voices in economic development—John Bauknight, President of Longleaf Holdings; Foster Chapman, President of Johnson Development Associates; and Bill Barnet, CEO of the Barnet Company. All three lay the truth bare for the audience, speaking frankly about everything from abandoned buildings downtown to getting involved in the local political structure in order to impose positive change. It seems to be exactly what the many younger business men and women are looking for—practical, straightforward advice and leadership on how they can make their city a better place to live and work. Interestingly, the perspective on their past leadership in Spartanburg has been mixed. While some believe that the leadership in past generations was lacking, others point to the fact that many of those same criticized men and women paved the way for current growth and development through their own philanthropy. Some will point to their local business leaders as detached, while many others see them as the progressives that have built the things—companies and organizations—that have lasted so long. Dawn-Michele Teachey, CEO of Hospice Care of South Carolina, simplifies the equation a bit. “There are two camps in Spartanburg: a very strong older community, then a younger generation that doesn’t necessarily want to live the way previous generations did.” As President-elect of Spartanburg Leadership’s Alumni Association, Teachey has a firm grasp on the leadership in both generations, and explains the difference of opinion as one of different visions for what Spartanburg should be. “Part of what we are doing as a community is trying to define who we are and who we will be.” Still, most seem to agree that in past generations, there wasn’t a focus on building up the downtown or other major hubs of the city—a focus that was, and is, desperately needed to progress to another level.

Part of what we are doing as a community is trying to define who we are and ,, who we will be.


“I do believe that the generation that preceded us showed too little interest in the center of our community,” Barnet adds. “However, during the last decade, a large group of people came together to change all of that. While we were hit by the economic downturn of 2007 and 2008, we did recover and in all fairness, if one thinks about it, a lot of things happened since that time that were really quite remarkable.” Part of the “large group of people,”Teter notes, was, interestingly enough, a younger generation of impassioned individuals that worked in tandem with the leadership that was already in place. “The Mary Black Foundation sort of systematically created a series of non-profit organizations—the farmer’s market, the Palmetto Conservation—and what this did was it brought a lot of really sharp young people into the non-profits,” she explains. “It was energized, people that could get things done and because you had a city that hadn’t done very much in awhile it was sort of a blank slate. “So, you had really creative young people, and then you had Hub Bub open up as a public space for these people to meet each other and inspire each other. Preceding that was the Bill Barnett era who, as mayor, did a lot of things, and one of the best things he did was the renovation of Morgan’s Square, which was a parking lot. That was a very important thing…this was very encouraging to this new set of young leaders in town it motivated them.” Teter notes that because of Barnet’s proven history as a philanthropist, and his openness, along with city council, to new ideas, Barnet was instrumental in getting a future generation of leaders involved in the city that they were so passionate about.This is especially important when considering that the county boasts more than 12,000 college or university students at any given time. “Just consider what might happen if all of the college students found downtown Spartanburg was the place to be,” notes Barnet, whose past experience as mayor from 2002 until 2009 is reflected in his knowledge of every aspect of the region. “That is over 12,000 young people. They want coffee shops, and they want bookstores. They want cool places to see friends and to be seen.” One of those places is what is being called the “Grain District”—the area between Cribbs Kitchen and Hub City bookshop, on the west side of Morgan Square. Bauknight, as owner and founder of RJ Rockers brewery, has been working to create the district as a destination location for food and music, even going so far as to purchase a fully-functional, mural-painted grain silo behind the brewery. “The grain district is starting to get some legs as far as being a destination spot, and HubBub is a central part of that,” Bauknight says. “Hopefully, when people think of the grain district in Spartanburg, they think of a lot of different social and cultural opportunities.” Bauknight seemingly has a high level of support—not only from those who want to see projects like the Grain district survive and thrive, but also from those like Barnet, who see the true value of a community that is not only open to new ideas, but excited about finding them and giving them life. “We as a community need to evolve and support new ideas and new things,” Barnet says. “Additionally, we have to retain those things that are already in place. If some of our creative ideas don’t survive, people are going to start to doubt our ability to sustain good ideas.” Still, he is just as quick to point out the responsibilities of the local citizenry, as well. “If you want a vibrant downtown, you need to be willing to assist and support the risk takers by using their

services and products,” he tells the group. “For example, if you want to buy a book, go to the Hub City Bookstore. We need to reward those people in our community who have taken these risks.” hose risk-takers—the entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups that help create vibrant, eclectic communities— are highly desired within the Spartanburg community, but until just recently, had no formal support structure to fall back on. Those who took risks, therefore, took huge risks; taking on the burden and the gravity of each step within the process, backed only by whatever local support they could drum up individually. Seeing this, the Economic Futures Group brought in Steven Hahn, a financial luminary who had already seen his share of building, financing and selling businesses. Recently relocated from New York, Hahn agreed to come on, part-time, to steer the newlyformed Entrepreneurial Services division. “In order for an effective entrepreneur system to work, it needs mentors, incubator facilities, finance sourcing—those are all pillars of making this happen,” Hahn says of his vision for the group, which began only at the beginning of 2012. Personally, Hahn says, he approaches each prospective entrepreneur with one request: “I want to hear your idea,” he says. “And it doesn’t even have to be on a napkin.” That means, of course, that sometimes he gets people in the door who just want to start up a janitorial business, while others have visions of large-scale, high-growth possibilities. The point is, he says, that people are coming. In fact, in the last six months, Hahn has seen more than 160 projects, and 10 companies have already begun working their way through he program. Part of the future success of the Entrepreneurial Services group, however, is determined by the connections Hahn is making now, as a support system for all the future clients. Knowing that the most important and most pressing pieces were mentors and incubator facilities, he set out to ensure that those partnerships were in place long before they were needed. Already, Spartanburg had two incubator facilities—USC Upstate’s “George” has incubator space in downtown Spartanburg, while Spartanburg Community College has come to be known for it’s “soft landing” facility, which allows companies to get feet on the ground before the brick-and-mortar location is ready. Both allow different opportunities for companies with varying needs and sizes to have space that works for them. A more complex endevor, however, was solidifying a mentor program, where entrepreneurs could get advice from some of Spartanburg’s most successful business owners and operators. Fortunately, because of the support from a few prominent businessmen, Hahn was able to get 100 of Spartanburg’s most influential into a room at one time. Every single person signed on with their support. “I can’t tell you what a feeling it is to have all that behind me,” Hahn says. “It’s sort of like showing up to a schoolyard fight with the entire football team behind you. There is no fear.” Still, he notes, the result is far bigger than simply having a network of successful entrepreneurs who have agreed to support those who are just starting out. “Because we have the whole community behind us, what this will help us do is develop a culture of supporting entrepreneurs.”

This is a town for doers, not just ,, consumers.


Already, the community is buzzing about having such a program in place. Teachey notes that the Entrepreneur’s Council is “huge for this community.” Smith adds, “I think that is going to be a fine opportunity for that individual starting a business to have those chats with other entrepreneurs and talk about challenges and have the other support services that are needed, whether its from financing to how do you formulate business plans, a lot of that support staff that these individuals need when starting a company.” till, there’s another level of support needed for an entrepreneur or small business owner to survive; one that comes from the stability and growth of the community surrounding them. Just as a truly successful city cannot be built on manufacturing alone,it cannot focus only on the entrepreneur without in turn examining if the infrastructure is available to new ideas and new businesses.That infrastructure, provided by the city and county governments, must focus not only on real estate available for new or recruited businesses, but also the quality-of-life-amenities that attract companies, their employees, students and families. “If you look at where the city has spent money recently, it’s been very tightly focused on the Southside,” says the City of Spartanburg’s Communications Manager Will Rothschild. With this high focus, the city—along with private investors and philanthropists—brought the C.C. Woodson Community Center to the area, completing the $7 million project on the beautiful, 27,000 square foot center in an area rife with low-income housing. The community immediately adopted the area. “Now, you’ll see people from all over the city travel to the Southside to take a Zumba class,” says Rothschild. The community center is flanked by a grocery store and a shopping center—proof that there is once again interest in the area. Hopefully, Rothschild says, there will be more private investment in the area, as well. With such a success under their belt, the City then directed efforts to the Northside of Spartanburg, where Spartan Mills, one of the first cotton mills in the area, sat vacant. The City acquired more than 200 pieces of property in the area, all which were either vacant or abandoned, and began creating the vision. It was nothing, if not unexpected. “Imagine you’ve got an area where crime rates are high and income is low,” Rothschild explains. “And then you say ‘Hey, let’s recruit a medical college to go there.” It was, on the surface, illogical, but it worked, and in 2011, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (known around the city as VCOM) showed the results of the $30 million investment when they opened up to their first class of 162 students.With a direct economic impact estimated at around $35 million, it was proof that the city was truly able to flip the equation; taking a low-income area that took a lot of resources and gave little back in tax revenue and transforming it into an area with great energy and much potential. The Northside soon began to stand as another example of what could happen with community effort—it took foundations, hospitals, and local groups to make the VCOM move (and the building up of the area around Spartan Mills) happen, and no one could have done it alone. “When you start looking at how you build a community, you can’t just look at real estate,” says Mitch Kennedy, Community Services director for the City.“You have to look at bringing together groups, hospitals, and foundations.”

But because of the community’s work together, one other thing began to happen on the Northside. It wasn’t long before Purpose Built Communities, a group focused on economic growth through changing neighborhoods, whose reputation has grown since billionaire Warren Buffett joined the ranks of supporters, came to town. Spartanburg’s Northside became one of only eight communities in the U.S. that is a partner with Purpose Built Communities. But the focus on economic development isn’t only on these large-scale projects that get much of the attention—it’s just more likely that these are the areas that are the most prominent and most “sexy” to talk about. “There’s this work under the hood that cities have to do that goes unseen,” Rothschild notes. “It’s not sexy to talk about parking decks or getting the financial house in order.” Still, these things are necessary to providing the stable base needed to build a community. ith city developments and entrepreneurs budding all around the county, Spartanburg can truly be called a city on the rise. But the most gripping force of change isn’t seen in the City, or the Chamber, or even in groups like Purpose Built Communities, the many corporations, or the local foundations. Truly, the biggest force within Spartanburg right now is the people themselves. “People in Spartanburg have a tremendous amount of pride in where they’re from,” Rothschild says, and Teter agrees. “It’s never been that easy in Spartanburg.We all have sort of teetered on the edge of success and failure,” says Teter.“But people work for Spartanburg; they really care about its thriving in a way a lot of towns our size don’t.” For proof, one need look no further than one of Spartanburg’s jewels, the Chapman Cultural Center. Developed to showcase the arts and history of Spartanburg, Chapman was a $50 million investment, and was fulfilled almost entirely from private funds. In a city of 40,000 people, that’s no small task. Barnet, known for his philanthropic spirit in the community, agrees. “Spartanburg is really a great place to live. It is a philanthropic community. In fact, it is the most philanthropic in South Carolina on a per capita basis. I hope we can remind one another of the positive strengths that we have. If we can connect all of the dots—all of the good things that are happening in our community—and feed off of one another’s energy, this community could really blow your mind.” For Rothschild, one of the area’s strengths is the possibilities open to people to be a part of the system—whether in philanthropic support or in their own hands-on experience. “It’s the difference between being a consumer versus being a participant,” he says. “If you want to be a consumer of great art, for example, you can go to Charlotte, Atlanta, or Raleigh. But if you want to have your own art show, you can come here. “This is a town for doers, not just consumers.” A revolutionary idea, to be sure, but understanding that the power of true community growth comes from individuals working together seems to be consistently promoted. “If you want to create change, the energy comes about by watching and working together,” says Barnet. “This building (The George), the Chapman Cultural Center, and so many other projects, came about by not one person, but by a group of people coming together and empowering one another. We want to do something really remarkable and, to do that, not one person can be responsible or control the process.” Rothschild agrees. “It’s not just the college students; it’s not just Hub Bub, or the Bill Barnets or the QS/1s or the George Dean Johnsons. It takes all of it.That’s what makes a city healthy and vibrant…It’s that mix.”

in an entrepreneurial move of their own, clemson university is offering a new kind of master's degree for those interested in being tomorrow's business leaders. The Clemson M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a new program that saw its first incoming class in June, is an innovative move by the university to help generate new ideas and new businesses and foster them into living organisms.

“The idea for this program, like many entrepreneurial ideas, originated from multiple sources,” said Greg Pickett, the associate dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Sciences at Clemson, adding that while entrepreneurial classes and seminars had existed before, they were never pulled together in a cohesive framework quite like this unique program. The intense, one-year program is designed to meet traditional M.B.A. requirements while also teaching creativity, the newest technologies and also creating a network to develop and support new businesses. The program is designed for 25 students with 75 community mentors in various areas of business and education to create a 3:1 ratio for each student. Designed intentionally, the model should help them along the process—not only in terms of education, but also to guide them through the start-up of a new business. Classes consist of teaching fundamentals of business such as accounting, term sheet financing, legal issues, rapid prototyping, technological innovations, and search engine optimization. But in terms of real-world application, the students will be taught how to use each of these for their own business ideas. Students are to apply to the program with an idea already formed and to be admitted, they need to be able to give a brief one PowerPoint elevator pitch to showcase their business idea. “I’m really excited about it. I’m really excited about being a part of the program developing, and to see what kind of impact we can have,” says Meredith Cole, a bioengineering graduate of Clemson University. As a member of the first class, Cole is excited about the prospects of going through the program and help tailor it for future students, as well as the possibility of becoming a mentor to future students of the program. “I’ve known since I was 11 exactly what I wanted to do,” she says. In fact, her desire to open a therapeutic horse farm has been in her mind for most of her life, but the question of how to do it has been in the way. Now, she has the opportunity to


Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

make it happen through the new M.B.A program. Ro’Nique Staley, an industrial engineering graduate of Clemson University, also brought in a business proposition that is close to his heart. A-Sound-Mind will be a non-profit organization to help students who had to leave college for various reasons by assisting them back into college and seeing them through to graduation. “The goal is to find five students who have left the university and give them the resources for them to graduate—be it financial or educational; and everything would be provided for free,” says Staley. In addition to weekly classes and seminars in the new MBA program, the program offers several events designed to spark creativity, to teach, and to help students network. Network Mondays are evening events designed to give students small group and individual time with the mentors to receive coaching and advice, such as selling in international markets. Another event is a monthly visit called Venture Friday. In these off-campus visits, students have the opportunity to visit sites that provide entrepreneurial experience. Activities such as team building at the BMW Performance Driving School and attending international symposiums provide students with experience and also inspiration in seeing real life entrepreneurism at work. The program’s culmination in the May term will have the students pitch their ideas in an investor “Road Show” in three cities to help get funding for their start-ups.Winners can earn up to $40,000 dollars towards their business along with an opportunity to pitch to S.C. Launch for a possible $200,000 in seed capital. The optimal goal for the program is to have multiple real start-ups that are ready to go after the year-long program. “Our aim is for the new program to generate real world startups by our M.B.A. students and act as a catalyst for entrepreneurial activity in the overall upstate community,” says David Wyman, the associate director of the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership and one of the founders of the new program.

karlbruns City: Greenville, SC Undergrad: Clemson University Mechanical Engineering


“Every time I go to an event, you look across a field where everybody’s parked and every vehicle is built the exact same.” Bruns seeks to change that by building a new kind of four-wheel drive vehicle, not only by taking the best of what’s out there and fusing it into a new innovative automobile, but also by partnering with a larger distributor to get it out there.

Associate Dean, College of Business & Behavioral Science, Clemson at the Falls “I am very excited about this first class. Our students have great ideas that should find success in the marketplace. In five years, I fully expect to look back and savor the success stories that we helped to launch.”

daviddannelly City: Easley, SC Undergrad: Clemson University Economics “In today’s society kids naturally look up to professional athletes in all sports.” It is because of these influences that Dannelly wants to create a business to bridge the gap between these athletes and at-risk kids to help them develop skills such as leadership and socialization that will be vital for the future and have them in turn become leaders for other kids.

chipadams City: Marietta, GA Undergrad: Clemson University Management

davewyman Associate Director, Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership “As Charles Dickens would say: We have Great Expectations with this first class. The students are an amazing array of diverse experiences, concepts and backgrounds. We couldn’t be luckier with this initial cohort. We are excited to see what innovative real world start-ups will emerge in the next 12 months.”

“We were made to compete, to push limits, to respond to challenges, and to achieve great things.” Adams’ business idea is an organization designed around creating competitions. It will develop courses for mud runs and other adventure type races in order to push each participant to their physical limits.

rileycsernica City: Clemson, SC Undergrad: Clemson University Bioengineering Stemming from an idea in her senior design class that is currently in the process of being patented, Csernica is hoping to build her business around a new kind of brace that reduces stress on the shoulder while not limiting mobility. “I hope to take that patent and actually create an orthotics or medical brace business around this product.”

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City: Lexington, OH Undergrad: Ohio State University Economics & Mechanical Engineering

City: Clemson, SC Undergrad: Clemson University Bioengineering

“It will allow consumers and farmers to connect directly with each other.” Hahn wants to create what is essentially an online farmers’ market with farmers and buyers having direct contact with each other so that the consumer gets a good product, while the farmer is able to reap all of the profit and not just a small percentage, as if they went through a City: Smyrna, GA market or store. Undergrad: University of New Orleans Business Administration


“My business centers transportation and logistical movement of bioengineered devices, tissue engineered devices to patients.” Pascal’s business will create an innovative and game-changing system that will assist hospitals and medical centers in transporting bioengineered materials to patients in an effective and swift manner.

“I want to bring products into the marketplace that provide innovative solutions to problems you didn’t know you had.” One of the first of Muller’s products will be a pensized toothbrush that can be taken anywhere and can be handy before a business meeting or a date.

meredithdonaldson City: Clemson, SC Undergrad: Clemson University Bioengineering

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“I want to work in therapeutic horsemanship and I want to open and manage a program and diversify from there.” Having this dream since she was 11 years old, Donaldson has been looking for the opportunity to make it a reality. Initially wanting to partner with an existing program, she will seek to branch out and become City: Columbia, SC her own therapeutic program. Undergrad: University of South Carolina International Studies & French


“I had the idea for permanent learning centers specifically for science, technology, engineering, and math for K-12.” Martin wants to establish education centers that are designed to give students an education based around science, engineering, mathematics and technology to help guide them towards careers in those fields.


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bradpowell City: Greenville, SC Undergrad: The Citadel Business Administration “One cannot improve upon performance unless one knows where one has been.” Powell wants to design an innovative golf scoring system based on cloud technology to help all levels of players keep track of their personal scoring and by doing so, help to improve the games of golfers everywhere.



City: Laurens, SC Undergrad: Presbyterian College Art

City: Spartanburg, SC Undergrad: Queens University Political Science “This brand’s goal is to uplift and empower women by giving them an opportunity to identify, embrace, and celebrate that which makes them feel beautiful.” St.Jean’s idea is to create several product lines united under one City: Greer, SC brand that seeks to make a woman Undergrad: Transylvania feel good and allow her to appreciate a UniversityBusiness Administration & deeper, more individual beauty. Sociology

“Studies show that after nine months in the womb, babies can have a difficult time adjusting to the activity outside, and are thus settled by movements and sounds like those experienced in the womb.” Putnam’s idea is to develop and create products designed to simulate the environment of the womb to help newborns adjust to their new surroundings.


“Taking care of a couple of people in nursing homes and being the one that has to find the articles of clothing that meet with the standards of the nursing home as well as with the individual personal requirements.” Wilton’s business will develop a line of clothing suited to the needs of those staying in nursing homes and care facilities that meet both personal needs and the standards of the facility.


darlenerodillo City: Anderson, SC Undergrad: University of South Carolina Exercise Science “You need to be of good health in terms of your mind, body, soul, and spirit to be a contributor in the community and just be a whole person.” Out of this idea, Rodillo wants to create a service that helps employers and employees develop plans to maintain health and wellness in the office space. While promoting better health for employees, being in good shape also promotes productivity in the workplace.

“I know about that struggle personally.” Staley’s business is one that is close to his heart. Seeking to build a non-profit organization designed to help students who leave college for one reason or another, get back into school providing financial and educational help to see them through to graduation.

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City: Spartanburg, SC Undergrad: Clemson University Industrial Engineering

ericwilliams City: Clemson, SC Undergrad: Clemson University Management “Bigger bands have their posters, but you usually have to be at the show to buy them and they are not really accessible.” Williams’ idea is to create an online poster creator that will make poster design quick, easy, and widely accessible to fans who will be able to create their own custom posters.

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box


1 1





1 1

As a Fleming kid, I caught the entrepreneurship bug early on. During the summer, my siblings and I hired ourselves out as weeders and window washers.

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

I don’t do it very well. You should see my refrigerator—there’s not much in it except for yogurt, milk and V-8. But what I have learned more recently is that crossing or blurring boundaries is okay. So, I have become more comfortable with mixing the personal and professional in terms of sharing stories, experiences, and people. But, when it’s time to play, play; and, when it’s time to work, dig in and do what needs to be done. Be present and engaged wherever you are.

[3] What are some strategies you use to keep

yourself in check?

That’s a great question! Call my assistant Stacey Brewer. Without her managing me and my time, I’d be in trouble. Also, anyone who knows me well will tell you that my regular morning powerwalks around Converse Heights and my occasional getaways to scuba-dive, cycle or get a culture fix keep me in check.

[4] What vision do you promote for your

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

I’m a very open and transparent leader, committed to collaborative engagement and creative problem-solving. I have found that the best way to encourage that culture at Converse is through active, open and candid communication in the form of roundtable conversations with employees, fireside chats with students, monthly faculty and staff meetings and, certainly, simple and informal gatherings just for fun.

[5] What’s your most difficult responsibility,

and how do you deal with it?

College presidents interact with vast and varied constituencies on a daily basis. I am called to listen, to be attentive, and to be responsive to the diverse needs, voices, and perspectives of students, parents, faculty and staff, alumnae, donors, and trustees (the list goes on) as well as my colleagues beyond the College.That can be immensely challenging. Cultivating that constant flexibility keeps me on my toes because, ultimately, I want to be at my best with everyone whom I come in to contact.

[6] What do you struggle with?

I am hugely concerned about equity for women. I am also concerned about how women treat one another—especially in the workplace. I often wonder why women don’t do a better job of leaving the ladder down for other women, or mentoring each other.Why, in the state of South Carolina, are the expectations for

women’s health and well-being, education, political representation, and wealth and earnings still so low? I am excited, though, because overcoming these challenges has become an important part of the conversation at Converse and certainly speaks to the value and benefits of a women’s college. It gives me great pleasure to see Converse students effecting positive change—past, present and future—and working to activate their own voices and visions.

[7] What was your biggest failure as a professional and how did you recover? I believe that if people are not failing, they are not trying. Failure is a regular part of risk-taking and success. I tend to move beyond my failures rather quickly and focus, instead, on the lessons learned and ultimately the triumph that will follow. I’m a can-do person.

[8] What is your vision for Spartanburg and the Upstate?

I want us to grow as a community that harnesses the diverse talents, skills, and perspectives of all our citizens. We are fortunate to have so many organizations and individuals across all sectors who are stepping up to make that happen.

[9] What is it that you find most fulfilling in your love of art?

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved art—from dance to design, painting, sculpture, music of all kinds, and theatre. It is through art that I found my way for personal expression, my window into other worlds, and my willingness to take risks, push boundaries and reach beyond the conventional. So, I suppose I am most fulfilled by what art teaches me about people—artists, subjects, even viewers like myself—and their stories.

[10] If you could be anything in any industry or sector OTHER than education, what would it be and why?

A modern-day Barbara Walters—scouring the world for inspiring people, asking them all kinds of questions, and helping them to share their stories with a broad audience. This inquiring mind wants to know…

[11] What is one challenge you are currently working to overcome?

I want to figure out how to best utilize my iPad and the plethora of available apps so that I can keep up with the rest of the world, or at least with the millennial generation with whom I work on a daily basis. Call Stacey if you’re willing to work with me on this challenge!

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box


For more from Business Black Box visit

[1] What was your first job?






THE PITCH: The only chocolate most people have had any experience with is a Hershey bar or other chocolate product you can find on a grocery checkout aisle or in a Valentine’s Day heart box. But there is so much more to chocolate, and we want to show what real chocolate is, through our new business, Night Owl Chocolate. Named for the countless night hours we put into creating the business and making chocolate, we want to produce an authentic chocolate that people can enjoy and that they can know was made locally and organically. Using fair trade beans from Peru, Ecuador, and Madagascar, we get the beans and roast and grind them into the cocoa that is used to make our chocolate bars. We carefully craft each bar by the country of the bean’s origin, because just like a good wine, each specific cocoa bean will taste differently, depending on the region. While we are just producing bars right now, we are looking to begin adding various flavors and dried fruits to create different flavors of chocolate bars as well as making a chocolate bark similar to a peanut brittle. Right now, we operate a strictly wholesale business, although we have plans to break into the Internet ordering market by releasing an e-commerce site that will allow us to reach anywhere in the world; at this point, we have no immediate plans for a separate retail location on any level. Instead, when we acquire the facilities, we want to open the factory to the public to come in and see just what all goes into the production of Night Owl’s organic chocolate, while also educating on the benefits of using strictly fair trade cocoa beans. For us, the future of Night Owl Chocolate indeed looks very sweet.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios




The company has evidently had success at trade shows getting its core product into the market. With the growing awareness of fair trade, organic, and locally produced, Night Owl should do well with specialty shops committed to those themes and consumers willing to pay extra. The value of knowing the country of origin is lost on me, but I’m sure I can be persuaded with marketing. Expansion beyond this niche market will require considerable effort and creative marketing in my opinion. The location of a retail location will be key to its success and I agree that this should be deferred until after expansion via e-commerce. Research on ways to get their product on the first pages of internet searches should be worth the time and expense. I think Night Owl has a future, but if growth is important to the company, its marketing should differentiate it boldly and clearly from other specialty chocolates. It should also aggressively identify the effective wholesale markets and cultivate those that are successful.


On the whole, I think this is a solid pitch. It clearly articulates the company’s vision and outlines the company’s key differentiator in the market it is targeting. The name and the story behind the brand are catchy, and the analogy between chocolate and wine is a smart way to position the nuanced quality, taste and variety of the product. The pitch also does a good job of highlighting the opportunity to capitalize on the growing slow/local/ organic food movement. On the business model, the company is wise not to invest in retail locations at this stage, but it will also need to be careful with the location of its production facility in order to drive traffic without overpaying for space. Also, in light of the point made in the very first sentence— that most people are happy with the standard milk chocolate status quo,— the company will likely require a hefty investment in marketing to convince consumers to try the product and to purchase it at a premium price point. Finally, given that the company’s brand is built around authenticity and craftsmanship, the company needs to carefully consider how it would face the challenge of scaling its production in a cost-effective manner consistent with its brand image. For more from Business Black Box visit

I have not had the pleasure of tasting Night Owl’s organic chocolate, but I buy other brands of tasteful and healthful dark chocolate (not Hershey’s), even sometimes organic. I have actually seen a small Night Owl bar in a small specialty food shop but failed to purchase due to price (if a customer ahead of me had not remarked on the high price, I might have added to my order without noticing the price).


Managing Director Upstate Carolina Angel Network

Assistant Vice President Canal Insurance Company

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

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n the 1980s classic, Ghostbusters, the mayor is warned that the city is facing something incredibly unusual—circumstances categorically out of the ordinary. This dialogue ensured: Ghostbusters: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions. Mayor: What Whatdodoyou youmean, mean, “Biblical”? “biblical”? Ghostbusters: What we mean is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God-type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria! Although the state Legislature wasn’t faced with mass hysteria, it did have a once-in-a-generation chain of events worth a brief reflection, which included two resignations, disqualification of hundreds of candidates, and retiring chairman. Disqualified Candidates In an unusual string of events, the S.C. Supreme Court disqualified an unprecedented number of candidates for political offices in South Carolina—over 200. The problem? A couple of hundred candidates did not follow the new law and did not properly file their statement of economic interests.


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.


In its ruling, the court said, “We fully appreciate the consequences of our decision, as lives have been disrupted and political aspirations put on hold.” Candidates for House will have to wait wait two two more more years years to to run run and again, candidates and candidates for stateforSenate state Senhave ate fourhave years. four years. Ken Ard Resigns Using campaign funds for items not related to running for office is frowned upon. As a result, the Lieutenant Governor’s tenure in the Palmetto State was brief—only one year in office. After an investigation ensued, Ard stepped down as S.C.’s Lieutenant Governor in March of this year. President of Senate Adheres to Constitution For years, influential Judiciary Committee Chairman and President of the Senate Glenn McConnell held his Senate colleagues to high standards—strictly following the Constitution and parliamentary procedures. Even though Mr. McConnell had ample time to resign as President prior to the certain Ard resignation, thereby circumventing the Constitution and taking over as the mostly ceremonial position as Lieutenant Governor, he adhered to state law and took over with grace. The move was a clear reduction in power, but it was the right thing to do. Key Chairmen Retire At the top of this list is long-serving Senator, John Land. The Minority Leader served in the Legislature for almost 40 years. This represents a true change in guard for the Democratic Party in the Senate. Senator Greg Ryberg, a pro-business senator, will retire to spend more time with his family. Serving in the Senate since 1993, Ryberg served as Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee Chairman. And, in the House, Judiciary Chairman Jim Harrison is retiring, who served in the Legislature for over 20 years. With these retirements, along with Senator McConnell moving forward, it is clear that the younger serving members will have an opportunity to move up in influence and chairmanships in a faster fashion that typically eclipses during a calendar year.

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

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ick Erwin loves the South. The warm climate. ACC football. An endless array of championship golf courses. But most of all, he loves the people. Born in Greenville, he has spent virtually his entire life here. He’s watched his foothills town grow from a small, quaint manufacturing center to a dynamic, bustling city that has attracted international companies from all over the world in a variety of trending industries, including automotive, aerospace, biosciences, and advanced materials, to name a few.

Like his beloved city, Erwin has evolved, too; from a young boy who that included all the many features and functions that he saw valuable— took his first job as a dishwasher atWestern Family Steakhouse to a highly not just to consumers, but to his staff, as well. While the app isn’t one successful restaurateur and CEO whose two downtown restaurants— that the everyday consumer will have on their tablet (as it’s developed West End Grille and Nantucket Seafood—have been named to solely for restaurant use)—the point-of-table app was received well by numerous “Best Of” lists for quality and fine-dining excellence. And Erwin’s customers. In fact, since the beta launch of the first-phase app in just like his hometown, Erwin continues to grow and progress, pushing Erwin’s two Upstate restaurants in early 2012, wine sales have increased by 20 percent. ahead into new areas, always looking to advance and innovate. Still, Erwin knew the app could be so much more to a vast number “For me,” he says, “it’s all about the dining experience. I’m always looking for ways to make sure my customers have a memorable of other restaurants. Rather than keep the technology all for himself, experience.And it was that mindset that first got me thinking about the he partnered with the developers to begin development of the app for public use by restaurants around the wine app.” world. The result: after a year of intensive As testament to this continued research, product development and realevolution, Erwin’s latest achievement is as “For me,” he says, “it’s all world testing, TopCellar™ is designed to potentially ground-breaking as it is unlikely about the dining experience. outperform any other wine app or point(at least on the surface). “If you’d have told of-table solution anywhere, when it rolls me five years ago that I’d be developing I’m always looking for ways to out this fall on iTunes. a cutting-edge wine app for restaurants, I make sure my customers have “The goal is that the TopCellar™ app would have thought you were crazy,” he will be the unquestioned industry leader says. But that is exactly what he has done a memorable experience. on a global level,” says Tom Fanelli, Chief with a new idea, a new company, and an Marketing Officer.“We spent a lot of time iPad app called TopCellar™. And it was that mindset that analyzing and researching what was out The initial idea of the TopCellar™ app first got me thinking about there on the market to make sure that our came to Erwin while he was in Chicago at app solution was superior in every facet. the National Restaurant Association Show the wine app.” Quite frankly, no other wine app can touch in May 2011—almost six years to the day it.” that he opened his first restaurant,West End Michael Ivey, CFO of Rick Erwin Dining Group, expects that Grille. Along with other members of the Rick Erwin Dining Group, restaurateurs will appreciate the results after using the TopCellar app. “It Erwin had hoped to discover the latest, greatest industry products produces results. Measurable results,” he says.“This app has proven to me and practices for the future at the trade show. What he found was the since its application in January that, when used properly with a wellopposite. At some point during the conference it dawned on him trained staff, it can drive sales—we have seen that.” But better than that, Ivey notes, is the fact that the customers love specifically what was missing: a custom-designed, point-of-table wine app made specifically for restaurants to engage customers, boost wine the app as well. “The guests love it, they like interaction, they thirst for sales, and increase revenue. Instead, he saw cookie-cutter, wine apps and knowledge and this is an app that helps then get the knowledge. This products that really didn’t cater to or benefit the day-in, day-out business is an interactive tool for restaurants that helps sell wine and it is being of running a successful restaurant. In a moment of clarity, Erwin thought: received by guests as a source of information, this in turn helps drive wine sales.” “I bet we can come up with a something much better.” Erwin—his focus always on the customer experience—agrees. That was the proverbial “gauntlet toss.” The challenge, as well as “It’s all about the customers,” he says. “We strive to give our guests the goal, was to conceive a versatile wine app that was customized specifically for restaurants, and designed to enhance not only the the finest dining experience anywhere. Our new iPad-based TopCellar customer experience, but also the operational and financial necessities app is testament to that. It takes the point-of-table experience to a whole that every restaurant faces. He hired a local firm to concept something new level.”


Q3 2012 // Business Black Box



a reciente crisis económica ha dejado a empresas de todo el país dando giros, mientras que otros han experimentado disminuciones drásticas en los volúmenes de ventas y márgenes de ganancia. En respuesta a estos tiempos turbulentos, los empresarios han recurrido a formas convencionales y más creativas de mantener sus puertas abiertas. Algunos han hecho recortes salariales, mientras que otros han reducido el tamaño de sus organizaciones. Muchos propietarios de negocios han recortado drásticamente gastos en un esfuerzo por protegerse de la disminución en los volúmenes de ventas mediante el aumento de los márgenes de ganancia. Asi que, como propietarios de pequeñas empresas y empresarios, nos destacamos por la búsqueda de nuevas oportunidades y en la ejecución de ellas. Una de esas oportunidades que puede representar enormes posibilidades de crecimiento para una pequeña empresa está en expandir sus operaciones a los estados vecinos. La tecnología moderna y la infraestructura hace que las operaciones fuera del estado sean prácticamente perfectas. Un consultor de negocios puede reunirse con un cliente a través de videoconferencia. Un vendedor puede entablar una conversacion con un cliente mediante un servicio telefónico de Internet. Una compañía que vende un producto puede crear una tienda en línea para vender sus productos no sólo en un estado vecino, sino también en todo el país con facilidad.


EXPANDIENDO FRONTERAS EN LOS NEGOCIOS Pero con este aumento de la accesibilidad a otros mercados vienen los desafíos que pueden retrasar o impedir, posiblemente, estas expansiones se hagan una realidad. Uno de los retos que recientemente ha ganado atención pública es el tema de los impuestos conocido como “nexo”. La idea detrás del término “nexo” tiene como objetivo describir los criterios utilizados por los gobiernos estatales para determinar si una empresa debe colectar ( y remitir) los impuestos de ventas, así como si una empresa debe estar sujeta a impuestos sobre la venta de un estado determinado. A primera vista, la definición es un poco auto-explicativo. Por ejemplo, uno de los criterios utilizados para determinar “nexo” es la ubicación física de un negocio. Si una empresa tiene una ubicación física, digamos, en Carolina del Sur, entonces la empresa está sujeta a las leyes de impuestos de Carolina del Sur. Las líneas son borrosas, sin embargo, cuando esa misma empresa en Carolina del Sur hace negocios en otro estado sin tener una oficina física en ese segundo estado. Este mismo principio se aplica a la venta de productos a través de tiendas en línea. Mientras que una empresa no cuenta con una presencia física en cada estado que vende a través de su tienda en línea, una voz cada vez más fuerte procedente de los departamentos estatales de rentas internas afirma que estos productos están sujetos a las leyes locales de impuestos sobre las ventas. Esta renovada atención sobre el asunto del nexo procede de la necesidad de los gobiernos estatales para aumentar los ingresos como resultado de los bajos ingresos a nivel estatal. Los riesgos incluyen determinar cuanto le costaria al propietario de pequeñas empresas cumplir con los distintos departamentos de rentas internas, la aplicación de procedimientos de registros adecuados, y la contratación de personal con experiencia para navegar adecuadamente a través de las complejas regulaciones que puedan surgir en varios estados. Es cierto que no todos los estados se concentran en este tema, pero, sobre todo en el caso de las ventas en línea, el negociante es el que determina donde será la venta y no al revés. Por esta razón, las organizaciones deben estar bien versados y debidamente informados cuando se trata de lidiar con esto y de los problemas de cumplimiento que inevitablemente surgen como resultado de la expansión a un nuevo territorio. Si bien es cierto que “la marea” está cambiando en esta y en muchas otras áreas de cumplimiento con los gobiernos, el pequeño empresario no debe tener miedo de nuevas y emocionantes oportunidades. La misma pasión y motivación que hizo que nuestros proyectos empresariales tuvieran éxito, inevitablemente nos conducirá a adaptarnos al nuevo entorno regulatorio y nos permitirá competir con más eficacia que nunca. 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.

Q3 2012 // Business Black Box


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Q3 2012 // Business Black Box


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here do we learn perseverance? It’s not a school subject, you can’t take a class in it; it’s just something that seems to be cultivated from experience. So how do you practice perseverance and be ready to face down failure and adversity when it comes along? For Maxim Williams, he does martial arts. Maxim practices Tang Soo Do, and in the four years he has been in Greenville, he has become a first degree black belt and is currently in training for his first national tournament. “It beats being on a treadmill or just purely lifting weights or running. You get a complete body, mind, and spiritual exercise nearly each class.” This is why karate matters so much to Maxim, because it not only keeps him physically fit, but also prepares him mentally and spiritually for what life has to throw his way. He has been injured while practicing Tang Soo Do, but each time he gets back up and meets the challenge again, and hopefully, learns a lesson. “Beneath my uniform are bruises and scars like most of us. What these scars tell are stories about risk, failure, love, loss and perseverance—at least for me. When I think about what matters, pain matters, but learning from that pain is what matters most.” The scars he bears are the same no matter what uniform he has on, whether it’s his karate uniform or a business suit. The scars have taught him the lessons he needs to learn to succeed in living and in working. As the Director of Community Relationship Building at Bon Secours St. Francis, he has seen his share of loss and failure over the years. He’ll be the first to tell you that relationship building isn’t necessarily something he is a natural at, but through his own perseverance has seen his share of victories. It’s the same perseverance that has led him to be the leader of community rebuilding and revitalization projects such as the Sterling Community and the Odessa Street community organic garden. “I’ve fought, failed, succeeded and persevered to be a part of or facilitate all these efforts because I see Greenville as being a truly inclusive community in the near future.” And Maxim will continue to lead and fight forward in these efforts because just like in karate, he is taught to “leave it all on the floor” or put all his effort into everything he does. “We only have this life, and ultimately, it is how you choose to live that is what matters most.,” he says. “Less me. More we.”

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios


Q3 2012 // Business Black Box

Business Black Box - Q3 - 2012  

Business Black Box Q3 2012

Business Black Box - Q3 - 2012  

Business Black Box Q3 2012