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Business Black Box

Quarter 4 • 2014



I S S U E . . .


Coming Home

Full Circle: Jody Bryson



BOX For more from Business Black Box visit




Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

The Angels Among Us


Q4/2014 E V E R Y

I S S U E . . .



25 Launch: American Foam & Fabric

Trailblazer: Ron Demonet




Q4 2014 // Business Black Box


12 15 16 28 56

11 Questions: Deb Sofield


What Matters: Marie Marjarais Smith


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22 26 40 44 58 72 76 78


Speed Pitch: Anchor Bat Company






Geoff Wasserman

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.



Marc Bolick Michael Bolick Andy Coburn Noelle Coyle Eric Dodds Erin Emory


Catherine Roberts



Annual Subscriptions are $20 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 info@

Chip Felkel Leslie Hayes Evelyn Lugo Walker McKay Josh Overstreet Alison Storm


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Business Black Box is a registered trademark of ShowCase Publishing 2014. 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.


Jordana Megonigal


DIRECTOR Johnathan Burgess

Business Black Box (Vol.6, Issue 4) 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.



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


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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) 281-1323, ext. 1018, or email









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7 5 9



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tony snipes, business coach & entrepreneur

chip felkel, ceo, the felkel group 2.


coleman kirven, commercial banking executive, the palmetto bank

amy wood, anchor, wspa

julie godshall-brown, president, godshall staffing 3.

13. todd korahais, operating partner, keller williams realty

andy coburn, attorney, wyche law firm 4.

14. terry weaver, ceo, chief executive boards international

maxim williams, leadership develoment, apple 5.

15. sam patrick, ceo, patrick marketing & communications

tiffany hughes, director of marketing, meyco products 6.

16. matt dunbar, managing director, upstate carolina angel network

michael bolick, ceo, selah genomics 7.


john deworken, partner, sunnie & deworken

greg hillman, executive director, scra/sclaunch 8.


nigel robertson, anchor, wyff

ravi sastry, vp of sales & marketing, immedion 9.

19. steven hahn, director of entrepreneurial systems, spartanburg chamber of commerce

jil littlejohn, president, urban league of the upstate 10.

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20. dean hybl, executive director, ten at the top

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box




Get Over Yourself

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ou know what? I don’t like this picture. Not this one, or any of the other ones that you’ve seen. But you know what? My art director does. And so here it is. Sure, I’m the publisher and could pull some rank here. I could be super bullheaded and get my way. (Maybe.) But I’ve learned something: every time I don’t like something (especially if it’s related to me personally), there are 10 other people who love it. It’s uncanny. I’m beginning to doubt my taste completely. And while it’s funny, there’s also a lesson here, buried deep in the whining pitch of this scrap of writing: sometimes, I have to get over myself. No, this isn’t all about a photo. If I’m honest, this is true in more areas than I care to notice. Work (why can’t I get this to work?), home (I wish I had a house like _______), at the gym (ugh, I’m so weak. Why can’t I be more disciplined?) Sometimes, we just have to get over ourselves. What I mean is, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Our own biggest obstacles. Our loudest critics. And usually…if we’re being honest…it’s usually pretty stupid. But still, we bog ourselves down in what we don’t like…what we did wrong…comparing ourselves to our competitor or our best friend or that famous, super-rich, super-successful entrepreneur we saw on TV last night. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, or operator, or whatever you, you mover-andshaker, call yourself…it’s a really dangerous place to be. Because sometimes, in this selfstarting position, there’s no one behind you to tell you to “stop being an idiot” and get over yourself. There’s no one to cheer you on and then kick you in the pants to get moving again. You have to do it all by yourself. Or, you have to surround yourself with people who will. So today, here’s a thought, and it’s one I’m still working on every day of my life: Get out of your own way. Learn to celebrate your failures and your successes equally, and if you can’t, find someone to put in your circle who will. And for goodness’ sake: Get over yourself.

Publisher, Business Black Box | 864/281-1323 x.1010 | megonigal Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye Studios


Q4 2014 // Business Black Box






















N E E S.


Tom Wilson & Tim Wilson Palmetto Adhesives Greenville, SC

THE PALMETTO BANK MAKES IT EASY. “The Palmetto Bank makes banking personal again. We appreciate the single point of contact for both our personal and commercial needs. Plus, their products fit well with our business needs. We need a good partner for our growing and expanding company. We believe The Palmetto Bank has what we need in a banking partner for a long time to come. They make it easy.”


Member FDIC





Individual Photographs Used

102 Photoshop Layers

retouched photo

typography warped to walls

added perspective

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Production Hours

typography added



Catherine Roberts

Carter Tippins, FishEye Studios


Nate Moore Peace House Coordinator Q4 2014 // Business Black Box





Something Big is Buzzing


Upstate Warrior Solution

e-Merge @ the Garage, an initiative to help grow business and entrepreneurs in Anderson, SC, is partnering with IT-oLogy to host a new curriculum—and started with a Back2School Cyber Saturday program for fourth and seventh graders. “We look to create interest for this program and bring it to e-Merge @ the Garage on a regular and frequent basis to assist with after school activity around STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math),” said Craig Kinley, e-Merge @ the Garage Chairman.

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The first programs, held on August 23rd and 30th, introduced students to 3D printing, scanning and modeling as well as gauging interest in the community at large to see how the programs will be received. Lonnie Emard, President of IT-oLogy, says of the program, “It is great seeing another Promote IT program being implemented in the upstate. This is a true collaboration effort and we are happy to be partnering with e-Merge @ the Garage to reach students in the Anderson area.”

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” GEORGE SMITH PATTON, JR.


Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

A non-profit organization whose goal is to serve 100% of the warrior population in the Upstate with career services, counseling, health care and any other need that warriors and their families may need.

Behind the Decision While the pressure of working at breakneck speeds weighs heavily on Small Business Owners, they still make time to look at multiple options. In fact, 67 percent of SBOs consider three brands or more. Once these brands are identified, a decision is typically made within three weeks. This short window to convert the customer means brands must be available when and where SBOs need them. They don’t have time to wait–and they won’t. * This information part of a larger study conducted by local agency Cargo. For your copy of the report, visit newsroom/article/small-businessowners-short-time-patience-shoppingtechnology




By the Numbers We’ve heard a lot more about veterans transitioning into civilian life this year, since the large-scale drawdown began in January. For hard numbers, Pew Research studied the trends and found several factors which could potentially shape how a returning soldier will handle the transition back to civilian life.

72% of veterans have an easy re-adjustment to civilian life.

27% have more trouble with the transition.

Making transition smoother: • • • •

had attended college were officers had clear understanding of their mission some sort of religious affiliation

For those serving Post9/11, almost 44% have a harder time re-adjusting.

Most difficulty: • • • •

experience of physical and psychological trauma knew someone who had been killed had not attended college got married while serving Post-9/11



Like knowing facts behind any given subject? So do we—that’s why we loved this quiz by Pew Research Center that examines data and other non-partisan data gathering on various current issues. Take the quiz and see how you stack up.

Did You Know?

South Carolina is home to more than 180 aerospace-related companies, employing employs more than 20,000 people statewide.

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box


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More on this report can be found at







WHAT: ATHENA Leadership Symposium WHERE: TD Convention Center, Greenville, S.C. WHEN: November 4, 2014 at 4 p.m. The ATHENA Leadership Symposium is a unique leadership program for women inspired by recipients of the ATHENA Leadership Award® and is an offering of the Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative, whose aim is to give opportunities to underrepresented populations within the business community.

Check it Out Of course you need a business’s what helps you walk through all the major decisions you need to make, from hiring to examining your sales funnel. But writing a business plan can be tedious, hard, mind-churning work, which is why we were super-excited to find the online app from Enloop.







WHAT: InnoVision Awards WHERE: TD Convention Center, Greenville, S.C. WHEN: November 11, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.

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Join us as we recognize South Carolina’s most innovative companies, educational institutions and governmental entities for their award-winning contributions.This year’s Keynote Speaker is former Navy SEAL Thom Shea. FOR MORE INFO:



WHAT: Business Black Box’s LEADER Series WHERE: McNair Law Firm Greenville, S.C. WHEN: November 18; December 9 The Leader Series, a monthly business series presented by Business Black Box and sponsored by McNair Law Firm and Sandlapper Securities, focuses on topics of interest for businesses in the emerging middle market space. Topics vary, but the interactive panels bring expertise designed to help you grow your business. Events are free; space is limited. FOR MORE INFO:


Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

We’re always hearing about companies or organizations that got social media wrong, but what about one that’s doing it right? Check out our very own Greenville Police Department who have the Facebook thing down pat. From breaking news to mug shots, ride along photos and safety tips, they’ve got it all, and they’re putting a face with our men in uniform every day.

Something worth noting: That #officerbragg you see refers to Johnathan Bragg, the Public Information Officer with the City PD. Check out their Facebook page by scanning the QR code or visiting GreenvillePoliceDepartment




Ten at the Top Summit

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More than 3,000 ideas were generated at the Ten at the Top summit held in September—ideas focused on how collaboration can play a part in making the Upstate even better. We grabbed just a few of these ideas, and tagged a few of them with our thoughts.

To see all the ideas, and even add to the conversation, be sure to visit the Imagine That! Site for Upstate S.C. at


Q4 2014 // Business Black Box



ome days it seems like there are more hoops and loops and rides in the employment world than in a world class carnival. After a week of navigating hiring rules, performance appraisals, drug testing, employee complaints and too much coffee, my Friday afternoon exhaustion is reminiscent of those childhood carnival days—without the little plastic souvenirs and cotton candy. Just like sunscreen and antacids make carnivals better, common sense and communication resolve many HR ills. But both carnival rides and HR rules have loops that seem to defy all logic, and then it’s helpful to have some guidelines. Here are a few FAQ’s, along with some hints. Do I have to use E-Verify and complete Form I-9 for my employees? With the onset of E-Verify, several clients have asked if they are still required to complete a full Form I-9. The answer is: absolutely. Form I-9 is mandatory and the information is used to complete the requirements in the E-Verify system. Although E-Verify is voluntary in some states, it is mandatory in South Carolina, so be sure that you are registered to use it. Also, be sure you are using the latest Form I-9, as the list of acceptable documents has changed, and make sure you are completing it accurately. One major change: Section 1 of Form I-9 must be completed by the employee no later than the first day of employment.



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.


Do I have reporting responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? January 1, 2015 marks a new milestone under the ACA. Beginning on that date, some employers are required to track which of their employees (and employee dependents) are offered qualified health care coverage. If you have fewer than 50 full time employees (30 hours per week or more), you generally do not have to track information in 2015 to report in 2016. If you have 50 or more full time employees, you do have to track some basic information in 2015 so that you can report that you have offered (a) affordable coverage, (b) minimum coverage, and (c) coverage to employees and dependents. This issue is complex, and I strongly encourage you to meet with your benefit broker, HR professional and/or tax advisor to assist you in being sure you are set up to track appropriate information. Can my employees “opt out” of overtime and take comp time instead? I field this question frequently from well-intended employers. In a busy season, many employees will volunteer to work extra hours without overtime in order to bank those hours to take at a later date. This issue is confusing because this practice is permitted in government organizations. However, it is not permitted in private businesses. If you have an employee who is not exempt from the overtime requirements (meaning you would normally pay him or her overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week), you cannot provide comp time in place of overtime—even if the employee asks for or suggests the practice. If Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) doesn’t apply, I don’t have to worry about medical leaves, right? Wrong. The FMLA provisions apply to the eligible employees of companies with 50 of more full time staff members. However, just because FMLA does not apply to your company—or to a particular person within your company—does not mean you can ignore medical leave and accommodation issues amongst your staff. If you have 15 or more employees, you are likely covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. These accommodations can include part-time leave and job schedule changes, among other options. If you have an employee who is experiencing issues at work that may be related to a disability, it is a good idea to consult your HR professional or an attorney before taking any employment action. If you’d like to read more, check out For more on this topic visit

Dear Technical Colleges, Realtors, Banks, Attorneys, Accounting Firms, Financial Services Providers, Insurance Brokers, Art Galleries, Caterers, HR Consultants, Event Spaces, Hotels, Recruiters, and IT Companies,

Thank you, but the position has been filled. For more from Business Black Box visit

In 2013, Business Black Box became nationally recognized for offering category exclusivity to our advertisers. After all, isn’t distinguishing yourself from your competitors why you advertise in the first place?


Don’t be left out. Give us a call today.

(864) 281-1323 X. 1010 | INFO@INSIDEBLACKBOX.COM 24

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box


BY AMERICAN FOAM & FABRIC made by local manufacturers American Foam & Fabric lyman, sc

for more info, visit Photo by Shawn Stom Photography


From S.C. to the World



et’s try an experiment. When I say the phrase, “access the Internet,” what are the first images and activities that you think of? Chances are a variety of pictures came to mind. Many of you reading this article probably envisioned different devices—a computer, a phone, or maybe even networking equipment in your home or office. Some of you may have even thought about the early days of dial-up modems and ‘logging on’ to the internet through a portal (remember that?). Now think about this: there is an entire generation for whom the idea of “accessing the Internet” is a funny phrase. Why? Because they’ve grown up in a world where the Internet is ubiquitously available. It has always been with them. As I wrote in last quarter’s column, their experience is defined by the Internet having access to them, not the other way around. When that generation thinks about anything web-related, the technology responsible for the paradigm shift quickly comes into view: mobile devices. From communication, to gaming, to work, writing books and making documentaries, the mobile generation views the web almost exclusively through the lens of their smartphones. Those with adolescent children see the evidence every day. Mary Meeker released her latest Internet Trends report through Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) earlier this year, and the statistics are staggering. Mobile data traffic has increased by


Eric Dodds was born and raised in Greenville, studied marketing at Clemson, and is passionate about growing the tech economy in his hometown and throughout the Southeast. He serves as co-founder and managing director for The Iron Yard.


81 percent. Mobile web usage constitutes 25 percent of total web usage (and is growing). Tablet sales have increased by over 50 percent and are growing faster than desktop OR notebook PCs ever did. (You can read the entire report here: Growth in the mobile sector isn’t news—we watch global smartphone manufacturers duke it out with new devices and law suits on a weekly basis. What’s being talked about less, though, is how this trend is going to effect our businesses and customers. The challenge for those of us in the nonmobile generation is providing products and services for people in a world that many of us haven’t fully experienced. I’m on a fault-line between the two generations: I lived a world without mobile for a while, but was just young enough to fully adopt that technology into my life as it emerged. Because I have one foot on either side of the fence, I have to fight the urge to cram pre-mobile products and services into a mobile package. We’ve all been there: “take what we have and make it mobile-friendly!” Increasingly, an entirely new mindset will be necessary—one that starts inside of the new mobile paradigm. One of the Iron Yard’s accelerator companies, ChartSpan, faced this exact challenge when they embarked on their goal to digitize and streamline people’s healthcare records. The decisions were difficult: desktop product first, or mobile product first? Both at the same time? Ultimately, that was the wrong question, according to CEO Jon-Michial Carter: “Today’s consumer expects ubiquitous access across multiple devices, and increasingly that experience revolves around the mobile device. Because of that, we chose to build a truly mobile service first and grow to meet consumer needs from there.” In other words, this generation’s digital experience is a solar system interconnected by their mobile experience. As the KPCB report confirms, the mobile revolution has come to pass. As 2014 draws to a close, it’s worth asking yourself, “Am I cramming a non-mobile product into a mobile world, or am I building things for a mobile world?”

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Employee Retention

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Business Black Box recently held a LEADER Series panel on hiring and retaining employees. With a study in hand by Center for American Progress—one that states that the true cost of losing an employee can be anywhere from 16 percent of their salary (for low-paying jobs) to 213 percent (for executives)—we asked our panelists what they thought the best advice was for employee retention. Here’s how they responded.


Q4 2014 ////Business BusinessBlack BlackBox Box


I think the most important factor in retaining talent is to create the right culture. Employees want to feel part of a team. They also want to understand the company’s mission and be involved in providing solutions and making a difference. Employees are much more likely to remain at a job if they feel part of a community and have friends at work. We try to combine fun events with service projects that offer employees ways to connect at a deeper level. Communication is key in keeping employees connected. What is the big picture? Where is the organization going? How are we staying ahead in our market? Equally important is making sure employees are encouraged to bring their creativity and ideas to their jobs. Uncertainty in the business world calls for more creativity with flexibility, and employees sometimes know best. Communicating and keeping employees engaged is more challenging than ever with five generations in the workplace but, it is imperative to retain employees in this very competitive global marketplace. We have all heard that employees leave managers, not companies. And managers who are not able to support employees typically have the highest turnover in organizations. According to a recent Center for Creative Leadership study, we are all living in a business climate that is volatile, uncertain, chaotic and adverse—VUCA—a military term that is now being used in business. Companies who are able to support their employees in this type environment will have an advantage in retaining their key talent.


Make sure there is open and transparent communication and dialogue throughout the lifetime of the relationship. This is the responsibility of everyone—managers and employees alike. For top performers (those people who consistently produce more than others), give them more than others. Reward high performance always, but make sure you know what a “reward” is to a high performer. It’s not the same for everyone. Remove low performers consistently and gently, as they drag down the rest of the team. (They are not bad people, just a bad “fit” for your organization.) -Jack Welch was right! Celebrate successes and allow people to have fun!

Jane Allen

Founder & CEO SmartWork Network

Almost 10 years ago, I was considering taking on a new job. One of my mentors, who was also my boss at the time, sat down with me to discuss options, and he made a statement that has stayed with me. “You need to think about your family, yourself and your job, and in that order. I, as your manager, should think about those things too, but in the exact opposite order.” Over the years, as I’ve thought about that quote, I realized that if you take that approach as a manager—at all times trying to do what’s best for your company, your employee and your employees’ families—you’re going to be a good manager and retain good people. The Job: Is the employee aware of exactly what your expectations are for the role? Be clear with expectations and what, if any, future opportunities for growth exist. The Employee: Are you aware of the employee’s expectations of you? Fair compensation. Clearly outlined growth plan. Respect. Trust. Regular meetings to discuss performance and goals. The Employee’s Family: Are you offering the employee an opportunity for a healthy work-life balance? Adequate paid-time off, flexibility in schedule when applicable, and work hours than line up with job expectations. Also, time-saving perks, such as onsite banking, dry cleaning pick-up and drop off, meal options, etc., can be of significant value. While turnover will always exist and be at the mercy of endless variables, thinking about each role in your company in this manner can certainly improve retention.

Ed Parris

President Phillips Staffing

- in collaboration with -

Gail DePriest

Director, Leadership Development Clemson University

Hire for traits (potential) and train for knowledge and skills. Use a consistent, predictive process…then onboard and develop them in the following ways: • Ensure that employees know what’s expected of them. How will they know if they are successful? Then give them the resources to get it done, and let them do it. • Match them to the right boss (using predictive assessments to help with that). • Give consistent “feedback”—positive, and for improvement. • Ask employees in person (not using surveys) if the job is living up to be what they thought it would be. If not, work with them to make sure it is a win for them, and for the company.

Zac Painter

VP-Account Director Erwin Penland

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box


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“You need to think about your family, yourself and your job, and in that order. I, as your manager, should think about those things too, but in the exact opposite order.”


Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box


Lee Vining was the American hero no one wanted. For the 10-year Army veteran, finding a civilian job turned out to be more difficult than any of the missions he faced during his two deployments to Iraq. The Army loved Vining, promoting him to sergeant in two years, staff sergeant in just five and even awarding him a Bronze Star for acts of merit in a combat zone. But then he got cancer. For Vining, the enemy turned—from terrorists to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma—and although he did conquer it, cancer treatments significantly deteriorated his lung capacity. Vining went from running 40 miles a week to getting winded from a 20-foot walk. His military career was over. Although he had imagined staying in the Army until retirement,Vining remained hopeful about finding a job. “Everyone says they want to hire veterans. Home Depot loves you. Wal-Mart loves you. The water department loves you,” says Vining, 32, who lived in Washington state at the time. But despite the impressions companies gave about their support of veterans, Vining’s experience was the opposite. “It’s really depressing to go from flying Blackhawks and being responsible for a million dollars in equipment to not even getting hired at Wal-Mart,” he says. Vining applied for two or three jobs a day, submitting his resume to home improvement retailer Lowes over 80 times for various jobs in five states. “I never got a single interview,” says Vining. “I was in charge of 20 soldiers under fire. I’m sure I can manage a few people in a paint department.” Sadly, the current military drawdown—one that started in January 2014 and should end in 2015—will put thousands of vets like Vining into a similar situation. The Army alone is required to reduce its active force by nearly 42,000 soldiers by September 30, 2015. The Pentagon says some 5,000 officers and 20,000 enlisted soldiers will be forced into early retirement or involuntary separation. By the end, the U.S. armed forces will be the smallest it’s been since World War II. According to the Department of Defense, the accelerated drawdown is an effort to preserve funding for readiness and modernization. “This year and next are critical to deciding the fate of what is the greatest Army in the world,” Army Gen. John F. Campbell told members of the House Armed Services Committee in April.


Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

But in turn, the drawdown plan could have a big impact in a state like South Carolina, where the military footprint is significant. Eight major military installations in the state support 131,161 jobs and generate $15.7 billion in economic activity each year, according to a 2012 report from the South Carolina Military Base Task Force. South Carolina ranks sixth in the country for veteran employment. Currently, 4.1 percent of South Carolina veterans are unemployed, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While there are 167,000 veterans in the labor force in South Carolina, 7,000 are unemployed. Overall the state’s unemployment rate is 5.3 percent. But according to reports, hundreds of active duty service men and women will be looking for civilian jobs each year over the next several years, with hundreds more coming in from other states looking for work. Bill Bethea heads the South Carolina Military Base Task Force and says he’s doing everything possible to convince the military to leave South Carolina’s bases alone. In July, the Air Force announced plans to eliminate 19 senior staff members at Joint Base Charleston, and in March the military moved the Army’s Recruiting and Retention School from Fort Jackson to Fort Knox, Kentucky, relocating 92 employees and their families. While the state largely avoided the hammer in the first round of cuts, Bethea says Fort Jackson, the country’s largest training base, is facing scrutiny. “Fort Jackson is a huge economic impact for the state,” says Bethea, who describes a worst-case scenario that would reduce the base’s military training brigades from nine to two. That means instead of graduating 40,000 recruits each year, Fort Jackson would be turning out around 10,000. “The impact across the community would be huge,” he says. “We believe [the Army has] grossly underestimated the socio-economic impact that the Fort Jackson cuts would have on our economy. It would be a devastating blow.”



A DEEPER ISSUE At the root of the drawdown issue is one larger question: why did it take applying for hundreds of jobs over several years in order for Vining to land one? Experts say those in charge of hiring are often intimidated by concerns surrounding PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder. Jane Allen, Founder and CEO of Smart Work Network, a Greenville-based recruiting firm, says veterans carry a stigma for many HR departments. “They’re afraid someone is going to snap,” she says. “PTSD is very much a negative for HR people.” According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly one in 10 Afghanistan veterans and one in five Iraqi veterans are afflicted with PTSD, but many can still function normally. Vining says he was diagnosed with PTSD after his combat tours. “It’s a normal response to severe trauma,” he says. “A lot of people think they’ll be crazy, but it’s actually a small percentage of veterans that have mental health issues.”

Ultimately, Vining ended up taking a position as the veterans coordinator at the Greenville County Detention Center where he worked to provide support to the 1,200 veterans arrested each year for charges ranging from failure to pay child support to murder. Now he’s working with Upstate Warrior Solution as a veteran’s real estate specialist, helping them find transitional and permanent housing. Charlie Hall, executive director of Upstate Warrior Solution, says one of the organization’s core tenets is to help veterans find jobs and career training, filling in the gaps the federal government is leaving behind. According to Hall, one-fourth of the state’s veterans live in the Upstate, including as many as 15,000 post 9/11 veterans. Many of the younger veterans are hesitant to take advantage of job placement programs. “We know as the drawdown continues that they’re going to respond to our face-to-face outreach, talking over coffee or lunch,” he says of the group’s personal approach. “We’ll be able to get them plugged in.” Hall recently helped Nate Moore, a 29-year-old veteran who served eight years in the Marine Corps before medically retiring in 2012. During Moore’s second deployment to Afghanistan his convoy was hit by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Before the entire group could be evacuated, Moore’s team was targeted by a second round of attacks. Moore suffered a traumatic brain injury, sustaining four concussions within a 24hour period. “My military career was cut short,” he says. “I wasn’t planning on getting out when I did.” Moore entered the Marines as an 18-year-old high school graduate, so without a college education his options were limited. “I honestly didn’t think I wanted to go to school because I was intimidated, since I hadn’t been to school in so many years,” he admits. “I was scared to fail.” Moore followed his wife to Greenville after she landed a good job, but his career aspirations were admittedly low. “I thought I could work at a golf course. I’ll get a paycheck and play free golf,” he says. “At one point that was my career goal. Not even being a maintenance chief, I’m just going to cut the greens and play golf every day.” But through connections made with Upstate Warrior Solution, Moore got an internship with The Peace House, a temporary housing facility for patients during treatment at Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital. Through

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

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In February, Gov. Nikki Haley launched a statewide initiative called Operation Palmetto Employment to help service members, family members and veterans find meaningful civilian careers.“We are trying to make South Carolina the most military friendly state in the country,” says Haley on the website’s welcome video. “You have taken so much time to serve your country. Now we as a state want to serve you.” New state legislation (H.B. 4922) passed earlier this year in South Carolina, making it OK for a private employer to give hiring preferences to a veteran. Those preferences can also be extended to the veteran’s spouse if the veteran has a service-connected permanent and total disability. In Washington, Vining’s struggle to find a job lasted more than a year. He remembers searching for forgotten change in his truck’s ashtray to scrounge up enough money to feed his kids—it was then he realized he needed to make a drastic change. So, he and his wife decided to pack their four kids, pets and as many belongings as possible into their Dodge Ram 4-door for a 3,000 mile, cross-country drive to Greenville, South Carolina, where Vining had an Army buddy and a good feeling. “We just knew that where we were at was not working,” he says.Within three weeks of arriving his wife was working full-time at Lowes and Vining was choosing between not one, but two job offers.


networking at the hospital, mentors convinced Moore to dream bigger. “They made it clear that if I wanted to be successful I would have to go to school,” says Moore, who is now attending school full time to earn a degree in business administration and working full-time as the house coordinator for The Peace House.

EDUCATION ON HOLD While it would seem that the largest piece of this puzzle is the hiring component, there’s another, often overlooked issue that we can be sure will show itself eventually, and that is the many students who use the military as a way to pay for school. According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, the Army drawdown will be achieved in large degree by controlling “accessions”—essentially, the people allowed to enter the Army. As an example, South Carolina State University’s ROTC program currently averages 100 cadets a year and is one of the largest producers of minority officers for the Army, according to the school’s website. But budget cuts will certainly lead to smaller ROTC class sizes. “Inevitably, if you have a significant reduction in manning level that’s going to flow through those kinds of programs,” says Bethea. But for those who make the cut, the future is bright, according to Navy Capt. Rodney Clark who worked as the commanding officer of a naval ROTC unit. Clark’s own son is a sophomore in a naval ROTC program. “He’s got it made,” says Clark. “If they can get into the military right now they will be in smaller year groups. His promotion opportunity will be very, very good.” But while his son happens to be beginning his military career, Clark’s 30-year career is winding down as he retires after three decades. However, with three kids at home and one in college, simply taking up golf or gardening is not an option for Clark, but getting companies to recognize his assets has not been easy. “I think a lot of employers want to hire a veteran, but they want him to look exactly like a guy who’s worked for IBM for the last 20 years,” he says. Although the military offers TAP, or Transition Assistance Program, Clark found himself sitting side-by-side with 22-year-olds exiting the military after only a couple of years. “They told us to dress like we were going into an interview. Out of 25 people in the course, I was the only guy in a suit and tie,” explains Clark.“It highlights the differences in employment I’m expecting versus other people.”


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And it also highlights the need for more tailored transition assistance, says Allen. “It’s like [Hurricane] Katrina. It’s a mess,” she says of the needs created by the military drawdown. “Everyone wants to help but no one can manage to get the help to the right people at the right time.” Part of the problem, she says, is that veterans often don’t know how their military training and experience translates into a civilian career. “Anyone in the military has had more leadership development than most people in corporate America,” says Allen. “But there is no way to translate between what a person really knows and what a job needs.” Using statistical-based science, Smart Work Network developed CareerChoiceGPS, an assessment that helps veterans determine their strengths and provides suggestions for jobs that would be a good fit. By answering 96 questions about how well you manage stress or whether you’re self-confident, CareerChoiceGPS gives you a plan for the types of positions you’re best suited for and what jobs you should avoid. “We can tell you if you’d be a good bank teller or not. We can also tell you if you’d be a good customer service agent or investment banker,” explains Allen. “What we are hoping to do is give hope to the veterans and open their eyes to all of these potential areas.” The assessment can also help veterans learn to communicate their strengths in a way civilian employers will understand and appreciate. Turning an infantryman’s experience operating tanks, maintaining weapons and digging ditches into jargon that human resources can understand takes work, says Hall. “You’re going to be scared if you read they were a machine gunner,” he explains. “We’re taking that and making it more applicable to the job they’re seeking, translating so you get credit for it, but it’s not as intimidating sounding.” Bethea says if there’s a bright spot in the drawdown it’s that highly trained people will be entering the workforce. He says it’s important for South Carolina to have a plan in place to help veterans land civilian jobs. “We want those quality persons that are separating from service for whatever reason to come to South Carolina,” he says, “and join the workforce and supply those skills and talents to companies that the Commerce Department is seeking to attract like the Boeings and the BMWs and Continental, that have such a significant civilian impact.” From a hiring standpoint, Jake Stokely says if a veteran’s resume crosses his desk he takes a closer look. As

Director of Program Management at Duncan-based Westinghouse Air Brake Technology, a manufacturer of train parts, Stokley has hired veterans for 70 percent of his company’s openings in the last three years. “You know they’re going to have an uncommon amount of leadership and management experience,” he says. “You can work in the business world 20 years and never have 40 people working under you.” Stokely says people can make themselves into someone they’re not on a resume or during an interview, but a military background automatically proves they’re highly trainable and excellent leaders. And Stokely says the drawdown could be a huge opportunity for companies willing to take advantage of it. “I really believe that if employers have their eyes open they could potentially see a lot of talent enter the job market.”


Q3 2014 // Business Black Box




startup company can use a variety of forms of debt or equity to raise its initial funding. Sorting out the options is complicated by the numerous model documents now available for venture capital financing, from the National Venture Capital Association’s Series A documents to Fenwick & West’s Series Seed documentation. One way to dive into this issue is to start with a basic review of one of the most common forms of seed financing, convertible debt. What is convertible debt? Convertible debt, like any form of debt, creates an obligation to repay, with interest, the money provided by the lender/investor at a specified maturity date. Upon the occurrence of a Series A preferred stock financing, however, the debt, plus accrued interest, will convert into Series A preferred stock. In order to compensate investors for the risk of investing early in the company’s history, the debt converts at a discount. For example, if the Series A investors pay $1.00 per share, the convertible debt might convert at $0.80 per share. Typically, investors also insist on a valuation cap, which is too complicated to explain here in detail. The end result is that investors generally will convert based whichever is more favorable—conversion based on the discount or conversion based on the value of the company at the time of the Series A offering, subject to a maximum value cap.


As an attorney with Wyche, 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.


Why is convertible debt used? Issuing common stock creates issues for a startup company even if it can find investors willing to invest in common stock. Accordingly, startups typically issued Series A preferred stock to investors. Convertible debt was developed as an alternative to Series A preferred stock. Convertible debt documents are much less extensive and complicated than traditional Series A preferred stock documents, making a convertible debt financing significantly less complicated, time consuming and expensive than a traditional Series A offering. In addition, both the company and investors can postpone trying to set a value for the company until the Series A offering, when the company will have more of a track record on which to base a valuation. Convertible debt also leaves company founders and management with greater control because it does not provide investors with stockholder voting rights or, in many cases, with restrictions on the actions the company can take without investor approval. Issues to consider. Convertible debt usually must be repaid after a short term of around one year. If a Series A offering does not occur before the maturity date and the company does not have the money to pay the debt, the convertible debt holders can have tremendous leverage over the company if they refuse to renegotiate the debt. The convertible debt also needs to address what will happen to the debt if the company is sold prior to a Series A financing. Finally, under the wrong circumstances, the conversion valuation cap can have a very serious, adverse effect on the economic interests of the company founders. There generally are methods to address the foregoing issues or limit the associated risks, but convertible debt should not be used without careful thought. In some cases, a startup company may find that other alternatives, such as Series Seed stock or “convertible equity” may be preferable, but that is a topic for another day.

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In a “perfect storm,” where thousands of veterans are coming home and manufacturing jobs need more workers than ever, one veteran is finding a way to join the two together.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios


TRAILBLAZER. While many people fill their retirement years with golf, fishing, home improvements, and vacations, Ron Demonet has his sights set in other directions. “Once I retired from the private sector, the last thing I actually wanted to do was retire; one thing led to another and I really had an urge to give back,” sayd Demonet. So, several years ago, he started a scholarship fund in memorial of a loved one. It was during that research that he came across information on endowed scholarships—scholarships that, essentially, last forever—and Demonet instantly realized a different need. They surround us everyday, though we may not initially recognize them out of uniform, but the fact remains that most of us know or have known in some respect, a veteran. While they contribute so much of themselves, it is easy to lose focus on the things they forfeit—normal schedules, family time, home, school. “One of the key issues in transitioning to a civilian life is getting a job,” said Demonet. “It can be difficult to translate military skills to business skills, so there is more need for education and training.” Once Demonet had done enough research into endowed scholarships, he turned his attention to the G.I. Bill, which provides specific compensation for veterans to return to school. “It’s geared more toward two- to four- year degrees and not vocational training,” Demonet notes. And while obtaining a degree is worthwhile, many veterans just need a way to get started and on the job track—something that comes with vocational training and the ability to receive certifications in a shorter amount of time, with the opportunity for higher pay.

So, Demonet decided to begin the process of creating a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Veteran Scholarships Forever. “It helps veterans, and the scholarships last forever—that’s where our name came from,” he says. At this point in time, the project is in its infant stage, but the potential is huge. “We just started the fundraising efforts, but our focus is to begin in South Carolina with the 16 State and Technical Colleges. The real dream is to become national—we’ll investigate other areas and spread as we grow,” he says. After all, “it’s not just an issue here, it’s an issue everywhere.” It’s a huge task to undertake, because as Demonet notes, unemployment rates for veterans are higher than any other (“maybe two percent higher”), and with young veterans, it’s even worse, probably around 10 percent higher. Of the veterans, he says, “they’ve never written resumes or applied for jobs; many of them entered the services right out of high school. “Going through the government can be so frustrating, so a lot of the time they just give up.” The scholarships would be open to any vet—no matter their age—unemployed or underemployed, as well as their spouses. While Veteran Scholarships Forever is geared specifically toward vocational certification, veterans can still obtain other scholarships for additional training or schooling through separate programs. “This is to help with getting them back into the civilian workforce,” he says. “Right now is the perfect storm. Manufacturing in U.S. companies is coming back strong and there aren’t enough technical tradesmen out there to fill all of the jobs. Everything comes together—it just fits.”

Demonet has also begun conversations with the local schools he plans to bring on board.The schools will be the pipeline for the program; instead of having to go through multiple organizations, veterans will be able to go straight through the school who will be able to provide them with information regarding available scholarships for vocational training. “It will be up to the college to evaluate who gets what—the money will be utilized strictly for courses and course supplies, not living expenses or any other,” he says. “Right now, we are focusing on raising funds. We plan on a having a minimum of $50,000 per school for the endowed scholarships. That way, the amount will just grow from there. “The great thing about endowed scholarships is that once they’re set up, they’re always available. No matter what the economy does or how the outlook on veterans may change over time, this is something that will always be available.” By the end of the year, Demonet hopes to have two local schools fostering the program, and have all 16 schools on board within the next two years. “But if the funds are set faster, you better believe we’re willing to grow faster,” he jokes. A veteran himself, Demonet ‘s goal is to help individuals and families make what is considered an incredibly difficult shift from military to civilian life. “Individuals can really make a difference; it’s just a matter of wanting to,” he says. “It’s not about the money, it’s about feeding your soul and realizing how important it is to do service for others.”

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box


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By Erin Emory



n September 18th, over 90 percent of the eligible voters in Scotland participated in a national referendum to determine if Scotland would remain part of the United Kingdom or become an independent nation. The measure failed, 55 percent to 45 percent—a significant margin after most polling had indicated the race to have been much closer in the closing days. Turnout, you, see, is important. After all the advertising, all the speeches, rhetoric, and confusion, turnout matters. Those in against the measure were more effective in not only making their case, but in getting their people to the voting booth. And yet, why must it take a vote on national independence to get people to vote.Yes, that is a major issue, but when you take an honest look should not all elections been seen important ones? In the June 2014 primaries in South Carolina, a mere 14 percent of you saw fit to take the time to vote. In the presidential primary of 2000 which pitted George W. Bush against John McCain 27 percent of registered votes cast their ballots. In 2012, GOP primary for president won in S.C. by Gingrich over Romney and others, 21.5 percent of the voters took the time to vote, yet even that was a 35 percent uptick from 2008’s primary. So what gives? Does your vote not matter? Do you not care enough to exercise a right that millions around the world don’t even have and thousands upon thousands of lives have been lost to protect? What is your excuse? Let me see if I can tackle


Chip Felkel is a veteran public affairs strategist, media relations expert and advocacy innovator with over two decades of experience in the State and National arenas. Felkel’s extensive political resume includes roles with Campbell for Governor, the South Carolina Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, as well as the 1988 Bush-Quayle Campaign (Executive Director, Georgia), DeMint 2002 Congressional Re-elect (campaign manager) and in strategic and communications roles with Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004. He also serves as a political analyst for WYFF (NBC).


some of the well-worn, overused reasons people don’t vote: My vote does not count. Wrong! As someone who counted chads in the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida, let me tell you that every single vote does count. I don’t know enough about the candidates. Then you are lazy. There is plenty of information, some biased, some not, about the candidates on the news, in the paper and on the internet. It takes very little effort to actually find information on the candidate and his or her positions on issues that will affect you and your family. I bet you can tell me who your favorite act is on “The Voice” and you take the time to vote there. Cynicism. Does not matter who we elect to office. Nothing will change. You are right if you don’t participate and elect the candidate least likely to do the same old thing. We have term limits and its call Election Day. I just forgot to vote. Really? How in the world is that possible with all the signs, the ads, and the noise candidates and their campaigns make leading up to Election Day? Forgetting to vote means you are so self-absorbed that you take for granted a fundamental right, no obligation as part of this nation. It is important you vote. It’s important you participate. It’s an important example to your kids, many of whom are woefully lacking in knowledge about our political system and how the government works as evidence by a recent study showing only four percent of recent high school grads could pass the basis test given to those seeking U.S. Citizenship. Sad, no doubt about it, but if they don’t see their parents engaged, involved and yes, voting, why should they care? Lead by example. On November 4th, a voter of South Carolina will have the opportunity to participate in the election process around the state. We will go to the polls to elect a governor, two United States Senators, Members of Congress, State House Representatives and cast a ballot for or against number of important issues such as a penny sales tax increase to pay for much needed road repairs or a bonding referendums to pay for schools. Your vote does matter.Your participation does matter.Your vote does count. It’s your voice, use it.

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Q4 2014 // Business Black Box


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IN 1942,

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the Greenville Army Air Base was founded by the United States’ War Department, to serve as a bomber training airfield during World War II. After the war, the base was slated to close, save a desire by the Army Air Force (prior to the separation of the two) to continue using it. Renamed after the war to Greenville Air Force Base, and then to Donaldson Air Force Base—in honor of Captain John Donaldson—the base became one of the most heavily used in Air Force operations, even becoming named “The Troop Carrier Capital of the World.” Throughout the Korean War, the Lebanon and Congo crises, and many other military actions, Donaldson maintained its status within the ranks of military bases—that is, until 1963, when it was deactivated due to budget restrictions. At that time, the full 2,600 acres was sold back to the City and the County of Greenville. Renamed once again to Donaldson Center Industrial Air Park, it became a landing place for companies who were looking to grow in the Upstate area—companies like Lockheed Martin, who in the late 1960s made the air park their home.



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Born into a tight-knit community in South Carolina, Jody Bryson considers himself a “product of the mill villages of the Upstate.” His father grew up in the Judson Mill community; his mother in the Union Bleachery community. Upon graduating from Parker High School, his father went directly into work; his mother into nursing school at Greenville General Hospital. But when Bryson hit the second grade, his father took a job with Union Carbide, and bought land just south of Moonville to build a home. Memories of a childhood at Donaldson still stay with him—memories of a bicentennial celebration on the campus in 1976; helping his dad load a pony into a truck bed to host pony rides; dressing in costume for the large celebration. Eventually, though, it was time to leave the nest, and so Bryson went off to Clemson. Interested in politics, it


Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

wasn’t long before he found himself spellbound by thenCongressman Carroll Campbell. “I had met some people who worked for Congressman Carroll Campbell, through a program—I had represented my high school in Washington one summer in a program that he sponsored,” Bryson says. The passion stuck with him, so “I ended up getting politically active, working on his re-election campaign to Congress in 1984.” Soon after, Bryson discovered that Campbell planned to run for Governor, and did everything he could to solidify a place for himself within the campaign. “I begged the congressional staff, one of whom was Knox White, a legislative director for Campbell at the time…and some other staff, and I said, ‘ I really want to work on this campaign,’” Bryson remembers. “I took a year off—I had one semester left—and I worked full time

on that campaign staff, basically managing the Third and Fourth Congressional districts.” Not long after, Campbell would become the 112th governor of South Carolina. As a “deal” of sorts with Bryson, he saved a place for him on the staff, allowing Bryson to finish his last semester at Clemson. In 1987, Bryson moved to Columbia, going to work as the Deputy Director of Transportation under the new Republican governor. At the same time, Bryson kept his ties to the Upstate alive—mostly through the Clemson Young Alumni groups in Columbia. Through his roommate, Max Metcalf, he met Jenny, who had worked alongside him in the Campbell administration, and who was also the head of the Clemson Young Alumni. The office romance stuck.

“The best thing about living in Columbia was meeting her, that’s for sure.” But while he was enjoying his heavy political involvement in the state capitol, and focused on getting through graduate school at the University of South Carolina, he knew a shift was coming. “I wanted to work for Carroll Campbell; I didn’t want to work in state government my whole life,” Bryson says. So when an opportunity came available within the Clemson Alumni Association, he grabbed it, and in time began travelling, talking to alumni all over the world. But as a newlywed, the excitement wore off, and Bryson took a job within a friend’s public relations start-up, where he would lobby for companies like Michelin and AT&T. In turn, he moved over to the Greenville Chamber of

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Commerce, serving time as both the Vice President of Membership as well as the Vice President of Public Policy. Eventually, he found a place in business development with a growing engineering firm. After getting laid off from the engineering firm (“I wasn’t an engineer, and if you weren’t billing hours, the company decided you were gone,” he says), Bryson found a place back in economic development— this time as the Upstate Alliance’s Vice President of Industrial and Public Relations. “It used to make my mom so nervous because I’d change jobs so often,” Bryson says with a laugh. “But I loved everywhere I worked; each one of those was different and I learned so much. Honestly, I draw from all of those experiences every day—I really think that all those different career opportunities really prepared me for where I am today.”

EFFORTS COLLIDE As Bryson worked to build the national and global recognition of the Upstate through Upstate Alliance, the Donaldson Center was facing its own challenges. The park was challenged—giving away land to companies like 3M to get them to come and invest in the area. Dependent on local realtors for access to potential companies, and with solely local marketing efforts, the park was more “reactive” than progressive. When the executive director of the Donaldson Center, Vardry Ramseur, passed away in 2007, Bryson found himself named executive director of the airpark From the beginning, Bryson was thrown into the deep end in managing the many facets of Donaldson Center, which at that time was simply airport and property management. But after only a short time there, he began to realize the true extent of what the center needed to progress and grow. “It was apparent to me after arriving here that we were really going to get left behind if we didn’t change our entire approach,” Bryson says. “I knew we had to transform ourselves. We had to go from being a reactive organization to being a proactive organization. We had to go from being locally-focused to being globally focused.” So, Bryson went to the board, requesting money to rebrand the organization. “Fortunately, they were very supportive. So we set down on a path to develop what is really a key program of work for us,” he notes. But rebranding wasn’t as simple as a new logo. Centered around Bryson’s desire to be more influential in economic development efforts in the Upstate, the


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center needed to be seen as a global force—which meant getting a new name, as well. “The economic development strategy really turned into an entire program of work, and I guess the most obvious aspect of that was the name change—I knew early on that we were going to have to change the name from Donaldson Center,” he says. Understanding that the name meant a lot to the community it called home, the name carried little weight where it mattered—in recruiting efforts outside of the state. “If you get outside of the Upstate, in a global economy, Donaldson Center means nothing. And what’s more is that no one is going to find you if they are searching Google for aviation and technology parks. You’re just not going to show up.” The first part of the new name would simply utilize a brand that was well-known—as the state of South Carolina plays such a strong part in the international business community. “South Carolina would be something that you could find and we’d pop up in an internet search,” Bryson says. “That was a pretty easy thing to do because we are pretty unique in this state—there’s no organization like us in South Carolina. There are very few in the country like us, with our ownership model (being half owned by city and half owned by county), the diversity of the businesses, and the combination of a general aviation airport with 1200 acres of industrial property surrounding it. So, rebranding ourselves as ‘South Carolina’ something wasn’t a stretch at all.” In looking at the companies residing within the center’s perimeter, Bryson then noticed something—that while they were manufacturing companies in name, they were technology companies by nature. “The more we started peeling off the layers of the onion and researching companies who were out there, the more we realized that these are really technology companies,” he says. “You know, maybe they’re engaged in manufacturing, but they’re using technology in the manufacture of their products. They’re not making widgets and they’re not looking for low-cost providers.” That, along with the historical and current presence of aviation-based companies, and the name was born: South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center, or SCTAC, for short. The name was announced in 2008. The name change was simply the catapult cocking into place. From there, other partnerships arose—most notably with Clemson, through CU-ICAR. By transforming the old, unused, 300-acre runway on the campus into a test track, SC-TAC provided the innovation center an outlet for testing—something that was missing at the campus off of I-85.


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FULL CIRCLE Today, more than 70 years after the first battalions took their place on the ground in Southern Greenville County, SC-TAC is proving, once again, that technology and aviation will always have a home there. The track provides research space for 12 different companies, and in its first 12 months generated more than $150,000 in revenue. In addition to CU-ICAR, Toyota, companies like Cisco and organizations like Oak Ridge National Laboratory use it—primarily for wireless charging testing for the Department of Energy. Economic impact for SC-TAC as a whole cracks almost $2 billion (the last study, done in 2013, estimated an impact of $1.9 billion, up from $1.4 billion in 2011). Ninety-nine companies call the campus home, many of which have grown or expanded in recent years. Even as everything continues to change and grow, Bryson notes that there’s “so much potential” for SCTAC and its future. “Technology, as you know, is expanding and growing and changing by the second,” he says. “But I definitely think that as an organization and as a business park we’ve got to continue to diversify; look for those new emerging opportunities, create strategic partnerships, and continue to try to create opportunities for the citizens of the state to have jobs.” In the end, Bryson—not unlike the Donaldson Center itself—has come full circle. “At the end of the day, if you boil it down, we’re really about job creation and capital investment. That’s why were trying to compete globally, that’s why we’re trying to create new strategic partnerships,” Bryson says, reflecting on the significance of the 2,600-acres that have played such a large role in his own life. “We want the park to continue to provide opportunities for the citizens of the state, much like it provided an opportunity for my dad to support his family and send two kids to college.”

DID YOU KNOW? South Carolina is home to more than 180 aerospacerelated companies, and employs more than 20,000 people statewide.


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Legend has it that the first pizza restaurant came to Greenville, largely due to the Greenville Army Air Force Base. Julius Capri, who was in charge of all the civilian mechanics at the base, noticed the need for Italian food in the area. His mom began making pizzas for the Northern aviators and staff, and soon her workload became “enormous.” When the war ended, Julius—also called “Cap”—opened a log cabin restaurant on Augusta Road. The Capri restaurants you know today? Well, now you know where they came from. • taken from a history of Capri’s Italian Restaurants,

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Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye Studios

By Erin Emory

Sitting behind the scenes of the Studio 62 set, the smell of Tex-Mex wafts through the air and fresh bouquets of flowers are being arranged on tabletops. A small handful of people organize papers, adjust cameras, sound-check microphones, move props, and prepare guests for their TV debut. At the center of all of the controlled chaos is Jamarcus Gaston, host extraordinaire. He props his computer on a desk and continues typing as he gives set instructions over the mic. “Hosting is like 1/25th of what I actually do,” laughs Gaston, who also oversees graphics, content, social media, web stories, and scheduling for the show—the whole gamut. The South Carolina native and Furman graduate likes to keep it close to home. “It’s all about local,” says Gaston, who likes to feature various local art and flowers each week on the set,“but my favorite content to schedule for the show is definitely food.I love to eat, and I love to talk about food. It’s such a big part of what we do in the South…but I also really like the music part.” Originally, Gaston had plans of becoming a high school band director upon college graduation. “My sophomore year we went to Cuba and while

there, I had a moment where I suddenly couldn’t see myself becoming a teacher,” he says. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but when I got home I took a broadcast journalism class and fell in love. The sense of getting to know someone was really cool to me. I was drawn to the news environment and I became an intern at WSPA and, coincidentally enough, part of my job as an intern was booking chefs for this room that I book chefs for today on my own show!” While anyone who has met him can speak for his captivating personality and enthusiasm for what he does, Gaston, who starts his day around 5 a.m. with prep, is no stranger to long hours and hard work. “As an intern, I had the opportunity to have Heather Sullivan as one of my mentors. The first and best advice she gave me was ‘come in and fake it ‘til you make it and work harder than anyone else around you.’ This business can be difficult, with a lot of long hours and preparation and egos, and with so few people involved in the production of this show, I have to be sure I’m passionate about my work and make an investment into my career.” That passion shines through to the public. Gaston, who

became the host of the weekday show just over a year ago, has developed a strong fan base. “The most rewarding part is when I get calls and emails from people saying they love what I’m doing with Studio 62,” he says. “There have been so many changes over the past year (a new set, name, host, topics) that it can be hard not to take things personally, because I know I’m the only one involved. It’s all about tomorrow—learn from today.” Not only does Gaston’s hard work and passion set him apart, but if you’ve ever watched Studio 62, you will also see that Gaston isn’t one to shy away from what it means to host a live show. “I won’t say it if I don’t believe it. Unlike a lot of hosts, I try to show that I’m more human— not a robot removed from the emotional element. Early on, I tried to fit a mold, but when I realized that didn’t work for me, I just tried to become the best me I could,” he explains. “TV is a scary medium—it’s my job to make a guest feel so comfy they forget the cameras are even there, and if they forget a detail or something important, it’s my job to know what they’re forgetting.” And while things generally run pretty smoothly, there are times where anything can happen on Studio 62. “I want people to see I’m not just sitting

on a couch with someone; I’m interacting. There are days that are pretty laid back, but then there are other days where we’ve had anything from baby bears to CrossFit competitors to 30-man bands.” With his can-do attitude and non-stop fervor for new and interesting information, Gaston has inspired the community to get up and go. As he and his team finish off the last bit of queso and wrap up the leftover quesadillas, he ends with a few words of advice. For those wishing to go into broadcasting, he says, “don’t say ‘no’ to anything and be willing to do everything. Business is changing so rapidly and people just want to be on TV but to do that, they have to learn how to shoot video and edit and speak in front of crowds and find information. If it’s your craft, you have to work at it and do your best to perfect it. On a larger scale, he notes, “Dreams do in fact come true if you’re willing to put the work into it.” For Gaston, that dream is already in progress. “I want the show to be an experience that makes you want to get up and get involved in the community,” he says. “I’m just concerned with making something that’s a need in this community.”

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One of the most well-known TV personalities in the Upstate, Jamarcus Gaston has built a following—both online and off. While young by industry standards, Gaston has proven he can draw an audience—all while having a great time at work.



e McKay men consider ourselves to be hunters and outdoorsmen. I have two boys, ages eight and 11, who have been going to the woods with me to hunt and fish since they were three years old. We hunt deer, ducks, quail, doves, turkeys and squirrels. I have always joked that we are much more avid than skilled and that it is a good thing that we do not have to feed the family with the meager amount of game we bring home from most hunts. This past Saturday, like we have done many fall Saturdays for the last many years, we went to the dove field to shoot birds together. In the past, I have been the one carrying a shotgun and the boys and I would take turns shooting. I used that time together to continually drill gun safety ideas and target identification. This time, each of us took our own shotguns and shells. While we all sat together in one corner of the field, each could pick their own shots. At the end of the day, with each shooting about the same number of shells, my eight-year-old had killed and retrieved two doves, and my 11-year-old had not “cut a feather.” As you can imagine, the eight-year-old was ebullient and the 11-year-old was distraught. The 11-year-old accused the eight-year-old of somehow cheating and the eight-year-old announced that his superior marksmanship is final proof that he is a better outdoorsman and hunter than his brother.


About the author...

Walker is a live wire. His brain is always working and a smile rarely disappears from his face. Walker is intense, yet thoughtful. In his role at McKay Consulting Group, Walker acts as a “virtual” sales manager for growing companies. Company owners hire him when they are frustrated by the current results of their sales team. Walker uses his extensive knowledge of professional sales and the rigor of a solid sales management program to increase performance. He has worked with hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs to improve sales results and streamline management processes. He is a straight shooter and a trusted coach and mentor.


On the ride home, I explained that neither had practiced or trained enough to either be happy with his skill, nor angry about his lack of skill. I was not trying to be a downer, but without skills training and practice (lots of practice), any results were going to be the result of luck. Professional Selling is the same way. Without solid skills training and lots of practice, most results that a salesperson gets will purely be the result of luck. Many sales managers and owners have attempted to manage a sales team and a pipeline that is mostly derived from luck, and some succeed, but it is a hard road. Luck is hard to predict or to repeat. Salespeople that rely mostly on luck or blame it solely when things don’t work out are difficult to manage and are a cancer to the rest of the team. Any more than I would send my children into the dove field without knowledge of the weapons they were carrying, the rules about safety, and a good description of what we were hunting, most companies would never send a salesperson into the field without thorough knowledge of the product they were selling and information about the marketplace. That training is helpful, but not enough to help them truly be successful. Many professional sales managers know that besides product training, salespeople need training and practice on building trusting relationships quickly, on managing expectations for meetings and relationships, and on disqualifying prospects quickly that were not going to do business anyway, among other things. By training and encouraging their salespeople to practice skills like these, these sales managers are making their lives easier and their pipelines more predictable. I’d rather be lucky than good, but in business, I would rather be good consistently and enjoy the fruits of good luck when it does occur. Training and practice are helpful in the dove field and in the sales field. By doing so, you will make it easier and more fun to consistently feed your family.

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Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

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How the growth of group investment is taking off

across south carolina

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When electric bus company Proterra announced it was building in Greenville, the community was overwhelmed with news stories featuring the company’s product and the jobs expected to be produced. But only a few years later, in 2011, it looked like all the hype might come to an end, when it was revealed the company’s main investor was being charged with, and pled guilty to, fraud. Fortunately, other interested investors stepped up, and committed to support Proterra, keeping it alive. One of those investors? The Upstate Carolina Angel Network.

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box



As one of less than five angel investment networks in South Carolina, the Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN) is currently the only network in the Upstate. “When a company comes to us to raise money, if we have sufficient interest from our investors then we will pool investments from our members that want to invest,” Matt Dunbar, Managing Director of UCAN, explains. “From the company’s point of view, we look like one investor, but on average we have 12 to 13 members from our group involved in any given investment.” Those investors—called angels—are many times just that: a saving grace for a company searching for that next stage of funding to keep their company alive and growing. More technically, they are SEC-accredited individuals who invest in and support entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. And while angel investing is typically attained while a company is still in its infancy stages, it is also used to breathe new life into a business, as was the case with Proterra. In a typical example, a company will start out with funding gathered from friends and family, and will eventually turn to venture capital, but there is a gap between those two modes of funding that angel investors are able to fill. Obtaining said funding and keeping an angel investor committed enough to agree to further rounds of investments is important to the life of a start-up, as without it, many of them would fail to survive. And because angel investors are also sometimes willing to take more risks than venture capitalists, they can be vital to a company in the lower stages of growth, where a company is tested, but in other cases, unproven. In its mere seven years of existence, UCAN, which was established in 2008 and is still currently headed by Dunbar, has invested nearly $10 million in 35 companies.


In South Carolina, angel investments are growing in popularity, thanks in part to the passing of the High Growth Small Business Access to Capital Act (also known as the Bill Wylie Entrepreneurship Act, when it was first introduced in 2011) in June 2013. The legislation provides a 35 percent state income tax credit to investors in qualified start-up businesses. Bill Mahoney, CEO at South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), says that while the bill’s intent was positive and will encourage growth of angel investments, its mechanics are difficult for some angel investors to execute—especially in terms of registration requirements and the need to certify investment status. “I’m hopeful that as more entrepreneurs become successful— both in South Carolina and across the country—that some of

the complicated regulatory processes that are defined in both the state and federal bills will get streamlined.” But, he says, “The well-intended protections that are in (the bill) need to be looked at again so that it’s a much more straightforward and personal risk assessment, and then I think the angel capital will flow more aggressively than it has up to this point.” He is quick to point out, however, that angel investing was already on the rise in South Carolina prior to the bill’s passing, and credits that increase to angel investment groups such as UCAN, as well as groups like SCRA. Since 2006, SCRA has assisted more than 290 startup enterprises and the top 70 of those, Mahoney says, have received about $19 million in investment from SCRA. Those investments led to more than $300 million in investment from private investors and angel groups like UCAN. “They call them angels for a reason,” Mahoney says. “They are good investors and good people at the same time. We are very happy to be working with the folks we work with today and we are quite optimistic that we will find other partners that will enjoy both the outcomes and the process of finding and supporting these very interesting young companies.”


It was this interest from other communities, the need to aggregate more capital and the passing of the angel tax credit that Dunbar says contributed to the creation of a statewide network. “Simultaneous with that, you’ve got all the ecosystem and development of entrepreneurship in the state,” he says. “More and more people are paying attention to the importance of start ups and entrepreneurship, incubators and accelerators and programs, so we want to help educate that marketplace,whether from the investor side or entrepreneur side, to help make our market as efficient as we can for startups.” So, in anticipation of that higher interest, and to encourage more involvement across the state, Dunbar joined forces with Charlie Banks—himself an entrepreneur—and Paul Clark— who has a long history in funding, investments and mergers— to create the South Carolina Angel Network. SCAN would allow multiple angel networks in the state to collectively invest in start-ups, meaning that investment of $200,000 from UCAN could suddenly turn into a $400,000 or $600,000 investment, if combined with investments from the other angel groups. “Matt is truly one of the best in the country when it comes to operating a professionally-managed angel group, but in order for South Carolina to be truly competitive, the state needs a statewide, collaborative, sustainable foundations for early stage capital,” Banks says. “Matt has done that for Greenville and UCAN, but in order to build out the infrastructure for the state, he and I and Paul saw an opportunity to combine our complementary talents, passion and desire to make it a reality.”

The three businessmen’s background meshed well together, combining Dunbar’s work as a management consultant, Banks’ more than 10 years experience in entrepreneurship and past involvement with a startup financial institution and Clark’s extensive mergers and aquisitions background to lead SCAN. SCAN’s current membership consists of UCAN, Capital Angels (run by Banks) and Tiger Angel Network, which was formed by Clemson University alumni. The three men are in talks, however, with several interested parties in the Spartanburg area to create an angel network there, and are continually looking to expand across the state.


For the most part, the companies that UCAN and Capital Angels have invested in have been technology-related. Software companies, medical device, consumer electronics—all of which, Dunbar explains, can scale quickly without a lot of capital. “At the end of the day, what we are trying to do is create access to very aggressive returns for investors,” he says. “We would like to invest in companies we believe have the potential to generate 50 percent greater return for us.” But that kind of return is not easy to come by, and so many of the businesses that find investment fall into the same industry space. “In order to invest in companies that have that kind of return potential, they’ve got to be able to grow really fast. In most cases, what drives that growth is something related to new technology,” Dunbar says. But while the companies finding angel investments look a lot alike, the investors themselves come from all types of backgrounds. Mike Smith has been a member of UCAN since its inception and has served as chairman of the board since 2011. With more than 30 years experience in the private industry, Smith says his “background is one that is the basic blocking and tackling of evaluating if a business will be successful or not. “The product lines may change, the marking may change or the service, but the basics of evaluation of a business really doesn’t change,” Smith says. “Having UCAN as the genesis to do our angel investments gives us a strong network that we can use that can be of a structured nature...not just independent one-on-one analysis.” Lee Russell recently joined Capital Angels. His company, Chernoff Newman, a marketing and branding company headquartered in South Carolina, is a sponsor of the network. His background as an entrepreneur in high-technology start-ups has proven beneficial to SCAN in choosing which companies to invest in. “I have been involved with technology startups since the mid-’90s—mostly on the West Coast, due to the lack of

capital in South Carolina,” he says. “After experiencing first hand the value of what tier Venture Capitalists brought to the table, I became interested in trying to make this happen in South Carolina.” Although Russell has not participated in a project with Capital Angels yet, he has been a part of almost 10 investments as either an individual angel investor or with another group of angel investors. “We want South Carolina to have a healthy economy 20, 30, or 40 years from now,” Dunbar says. “We can’t just keep poaching companies from other states and begging them to come here. Some of that’s fine and good, but eventually those companies are going to fall out of favor; big companies are actually net destroyers of jobs. If you want to invest in the long term, you need to think today about the companies that are starting now and going to be job creators of the future.” Smith agrees. “We are such a poor state to begin with, we desperately need the startups and the angel groups to help supplement and support those startups because the majority of the growth in employment comes from privately held or startup businesses. It’s great to have the BMWs and Michelins, but the real opportunity for employment comes with the private sector and startup companies.”


UCAN is obviously doing something right—the group was recently ranked in the top 10 angel investment groups in the country by CB Insights, a venture capital database. On a list that includes investment groups in large cities like New York, Boston and Los Angeles, UCAN came in at number eight. And among their most noted investments by CB Insights? Proterra. “We all recognize that for the long term economy health and viability of our state, we need to be making a market for start ups to come here and thrive, and a big part of that is capital.”

So, You want to be an investor?

In order to qualify as an investor with UCAN, Dunbar says an individual or couple must also meet the SEC’s definition of an accredited investor, which includes a net worth of $1 million, excluding value of your primary residence, or an annual income of $200,000 for an individual or $300,000 for a couple.

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box



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DEB SOFIELD National Speaker

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Q4 2014 // Business Black Box Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye Studios

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I scooped ice cream at Big Scoop, where I learned to always give a little more.

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

Since I am on the road a good bit speaking, when I am in a place I’ve never been to before, I might take an extra day to go sightseeing or hire a tour guide to show me the highlights of a place. I’ve had some of the best times learning from others while visiting in their hometown or country. My overseas work allows me to take extra days to take a train, boat or camel to see the sights. I’ve been blessed with amazing opportunities to see the world.

[3] What do you struggle with?

Right now, sponsorships for my weekly radio show on 94.5 FM (Sat. at 1:00 p.m.), Encouragement for Your Life. If I had a nickel for everyone who emails me to say how my show has helped them, I’d never have to have another sponsor until the end of time, but that’s not the way it goes. I currently have a handful of amazing, wise and intelligent sponsors, but to grow the show I need more. I love what I do, but it is a boatload of work to produce a weekly talk show to encourage others to find their place in this world and be who they were born to be.

[4] What was your biggest failure, and how did you recover?

I had to close a business that I started. My business partner Doug Stevens and I manufactured The Original Little Fur Coat—it was a mini fake fur coat that was a Christmas stocking (why hang an old sock when you can hang a faux mink coat). I loved them all, but the backlash against any type of fur—faux fur or not—I was not ready for. (I was accused of killing the faux population—go figure.) And finding outlets that would stock more than 10 coats at a time was hard. It was a gift for the lady who had everything and it was a fun and novel holiday item, but it’s hard to make a living on a one-time-of-year item.They were expensive to manufacture, and creating them in more than one animal print was cost-prohibitive. Then my business partner passed away and it just wasn’t the same without him. He was my friend, mentor and finance guy, and going it alone just lost its appeal to me. I don’t think one ever recovers from a loss like that­­—putting aside the financial loss—the personal loss of a friend and mentor was hard on many levels…and I still have little fur coats in my attic.

[5] You’ve become quite known for coaching people—and especially women—on speaking and presentation, right?

Actually, my clients are primarily men in my public speaking coaching business, but they won’t tell anyone.There is no greater joy for me than to see and hear, that within an hour or two (or 10) of private coaching, my client is a better, more confident speaker. I have the best job in the world. I see and hear people every day change their perception of themselves for the better, and together we build their future for success, by polishing their natural speaking abilities so they shine in their place. In addition to the private clients I have, I love training in the corporate world for public speaking and presentation skills, and I do a great deal of work in helping professionals deal with the media by helping them craft their message.

[6] What is one of your favorite hobbies, and why?

For 25 years I was a licensed auctioneer—one of a handful of women in the business. I love barn auctions and estate auctions. It is amazing

what people have, and I enjoy the hunt for the perfect piece. I also love, love, love my metal detector.When my friends and I go to Edisto we find the most amazing treasures from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. History comes to life as your detector beeps with the promise of something metal in the ground. I enjoy the outdoors and friendships that both endeavors afford in the search for treasure.

[7] What is your plan for yourself in the future?

My second book is in the works, so getting my writing done is what’s on deck at this time. I am also working on expanding my radio show to other stations for syndication, and perhaps add another show for the Christian market about God’s Encouragement for Your Life. I will still speak on the circuit and maintain my private coaching business, and of course my pageant kids, as I’m encouraging one of them to be Miss America!

[8] If you could be anything in any industry other than consulting, what would it be?

World foodie traveler with a TV show combining what I do best: eat, travel, personality.

[9] What’s your most difficult responsibility?

I’m embarrassed to say that the answer is getting myself to my engagements. I am not a great planner, but I know where I am to be, at what time and what to present…just don’t ask me in advance, since I can never seem to tell my friends where I am going. I don’t miss planes going to my engagements, but seem to miss them coming home for some reason.When it is a red-eye flight, my brother calls to remind me of the time difference and that I should be on my way to the airport. You see, my sense of time at 12:14 a.m. and 12:14 p.m. is always wrong, as well as my sense of direction—I daily hug my cell phone for GPS.

[10] What do you see as your biggest success so far?

There is a lot I can say here, but to keep it under 100,000,000 words, I will say my time as President of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University has been one of many highlights in my life.Who would have ever thought Deb Sofield from Greenville, S.C., would be brought up to re-direct the ship and set a new course for the top women’s nonpartisan campaign school in the country. In that job I made life-long friends and have the comfort of knowing that I did my part to help good women seek public office for the good of their city, state, nation and country. I am also so honored to have been a member of Greenville City Council. I love my city and the good and wise people who chose me to represent them, and of course I have great appreciation for Mayor Knox White who chose me to serve as the council representative to the Greenville Water System and then to the Commissioners who encouraged me to run and win a seat on the Greenville Water System. It is a dream come true. I am blessed beyond measure for the kindnesses afforded to me by my community.

[11] What does “Deb” look like to South Carolina and beyond? What do you hope people see?

When all is said and done I hope people say of me that,“she’s from my hometown.” It is my desire to be a force for good, so much so that no matter where I end up as a speaker, author, coach, radio show host or TV show personality, that my hometown proudly claims me as one of their own daughters.

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box


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[1] What was your first job?




y parents taught me that a good education would help me get a good job. The first in my family to graduate from college, my degree in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University opened doors of opportunity in my early career. My wife and I moved our young and growing family to Greenville, South Carolina in 1997 after I accepted a new job as an executive with a Swiss owned pharmaceutical company. We helped design, build and then operate a contract research and manufacturing plant at the Donaldson Center. Over the next seven years I worked my way up the corporate ladder, only to discover that the ladder was leaning on the wrong wall. Several promising opportunities to advance my career were available outside the state but, like most folks who move here, by this time our family was head over heels in love with Greenville, South Carolina. The idea of starting my own company started to percolate. Two years later, in 2006, with the support of my wife and an emerging entrepreneurial community here in the Upstate, I founded my first company, Selah Technologies. It turns out that my experience is not all that unique. A few years ago researchers with the Kauffman Foundation conducted a survey of 549 company founders of successful businesses in high-growth industries, including aerospace, defense, computing, electronics, and health care and


About the author...

Michael Bolick attended his first InnoVenture conference in March 2006 and was so inspired by a presentation on carbon-based quantum dots that a few months later he licensed the nanotechnology and founded Selah Technologies to develop a tool to help doctors see cancer during surgery. In 2009, Michael sold Selah Technologies to Lab21, and in 2012, led a management buyout of Lab21’s US operations to form Selah Genomics. In 2014, EKF Diagnostics acquired Selah Genomics and retained Michael in his current role as CEO. Bolick remains involved with the community, coFounding and serving as Chairman of SC BIO, serving as an Advisory Board member for the Greenville Chamber’s Next initiative and also for USC’s NanoCenter.


published their findings in a paper entitled The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur: Family Background and Motivation. The Founders tended to be middle-aged—40 years old on average—when they started their first companies. Nearly 70 percent were married when they became entrepreneurs, and nearly 60 percent had at least one child, challenging the stereotype of the entrepreneurial workaholic with no time for a family. Most folks know that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates left college to found very successful companies. While 52 percent of respondents to the Kauffman study had some interest in becoming an entrepreneur when they were in college, 34.7 percent didn’t even think about it, and 13.3 percent had little or no interest. Just something to keep in mind as we work together to grow our thriving entrepreneurial community.

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THE PITCH: In my experience playing college baseball and my brief stay in professional, I knew something was missing in the increasingly crowded world of wooden bats. Many manufacturers say their bats are MLB quality, but few actually deliver. After a decade of toying with the idea, in 2013, my father and I decided to use our passion for America’s pastime and do something about it by launching Anchor Bat Company. Every bat is handcrafted from start to finish and made from only the highest quality maple in North America. Everything from the way our bats are made to the way we package them in hand sewn burlap sacks points to our dedicated craftsmanship. The same level of craftsmanship is applied every time to every bat, so that Anchor Bat Company delivers wooden bats that are harder and more compact, providing the perfect tool needed by every batter, no matter the skill level. Unfortunately, professional players often pay the least for a bat and get the best, while others pay the most and get the least. We want to deliver a product that is MLB quality for every client; we strive for consistency and the highest of standards. Several hundred college and high school players already use Anchor, while several dozen MLB players are waiting on their chance to swing our bats. They will soon get their opportunity with Anchor Bat Company anticipating MLB approval in later this winter or early 2015. Former MLB first round draft pick and current college coach, Landon Powell, knows what it takes to be successful at the highest levels and for him Anchor Bats provide just that. “Anchor bats are some of the best new wood bats on the market,” he said. “They are hard, balanced, and hand crafted to your specifications. I expect them to be a force in MLB and become one of the most sought after bats in the industry.” Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye Studios





Director South Carolina Angel Network

As a baseball enthusiast myself, I can certainly appreciate the sound of a baseball hitting a wooden bat. There is something nostalgic about the sounds that have kept America intrigued with our national pastime, especially given the recent retirement of Yankee’s legend, Derek Jeter, and his poetic exit from the game so many people love. It’s safe to say that baseball is here to stay. However, because I’m a fan myself, I was aware of the controversy surrounding wooden vs. metal bats in non-professional baseball, primarily in collegiate baseball. After some quick fact-checking (admittedly, Googling), I found a plethora of data on the performance between the two types of bats and why the NCAA wanted metal bats to perform like wooden bats. Hence, the introduction of BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) aluminum bats that focus on how much of a trampoline effect the barrel of a bat has on a ball. I say that only to preface the fact that while I like the idea, I am not sold on whether there is a strong enough market to sustain a business for this product in high school and collegiate baseball. Additionally, a strategy involving professional baseball players would likely involve a long, competitive and expensive sales cycle, which is tough for any startup. As you admit, the wooden bat industry is getting increasingly more crowded and if Anchor Bats wants to compete with the Louisville Sluggers and the Maruccis (Marucci Bat Company) of the industry, they need to develop an innovative sales and marketing strategy to accompany their perceived higher quality wood, packaging, and customer service. If they do have a differentiated value proposition as it relates to how Anchor Bats plans to sell the product, I would have mentioned it in the pitch. With that said, I’m pulling for the home team! It’s extremely easy to strike out as an entrepreneur with a startup in a crowded space, but I genuinely hope they hit a home run and become the most sought after bats in baseball.

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Trying to create something that you have personally found to be missing from the marketplace is a great reason for starting your own business. Many entrepreneurs do exactly that, with much success. However, some entrepreneurs find that either nobody agrees, there is not really a widespread desire for the product, or that too many people are willing to settle for a substitute. Being deeply immersed in the market you are trying to satisfy can be an advantage as you conceive your business: clearly few people will know better than you if there is actually a need for higher quality wooden bats. But take care: as you admit, there are already many providers of wooden bats in a crowded market. Is there really a desire for another? Bats doubtless range in quality, consistency, and craftsmanship, and in the claims their manufacturers make. Overcoming the noise of people making similar claims will be difficult—particularly if it costs a lot to “try” the product to prove yours is better. It sounds like you have some validation that people will use Anchor Bats, with several hundred players doing so already. That’s a great start. The next problem will be scaling your operations. A hand-crafted, high quality product is great in theory, as long as you can sell it for more than it costs to make (factoring in all your costs, from materials to overhead, and your opportunity costs—there are other things you could be doing instead), obviously. But, just as importantly, a small per-bat profit is only worth making if you can make millions of bats. If there are only limited economies of scale when you try to grow, you could easily end up with a lot of effort to become a relatively poorlypaid woodcarver. Judging the right balance between premium pricing, sales volume, and manufacturing scale will be a challenge regardless of your celebrity endorsements. Best of luck!

CHARLIE BANKS Managing Director Capital Angels

Q4 2014 // Business Black Box





he Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines collaboration as follows: “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” In this sense of the word, everyone who has any sort of active role in society collaborates with others to get things done. Collaboration is one of the essential human behaviors that has allowed us to evolve to where we are today.Working with others “to achieve or do something” is simple, and extremely powerful. The Scottish people just voted, by a margin of 10 percent, to stay in the United Kingdom. I have no horse in the race myself, but many people in and outside of Scotland were pretty fired up about this historical vote. It was a quintessential exercise in democracy, a peaceful exercise of the will of the majority of the voting age public (which, for the first time, included 16-year olds). There was a whopping 85 percent turnout, reflecting both the seriousness of the decision and the passion people on both sides felt about their view of how Scotland should be governed. It was a laudable decision on the part of the British government to allow the Scots to determine their own fate in this matter. Indeed, it was an example to countries around the world of how to handle regions where there is a burning desire for self-government, if not independence. The margin was not overwhelming, and government in Westminster, recognizing


About the author...

Marc Bolick replanted his native roots in Greenville after living in Europe for 13 years. He has worked in all aspects of product and service creation for companies ranging from Fortune 100 multi-nationals to mid-sized European firms to startups. Marc is managing partner in the US of DesignThinkers Group, an international designdriven innovation agency. He is passionate about using the power of service design thinking to help companies build their capacity to work collaboratively, to innovate and to solve vexing problems..


that it would be close, has promised to devolve more power not only to Scotland, but also to Northern Ireland and Wales. What does this have to do with collaboration? Well, quite a bit. The lesson of the Scottish independence referendum is one of due process, civility and cooperation on an issue that was extremely contentious and emotionally charged. And, make no mistake, this was no simple procedure. The implications of a ‘Yes’ vote for independence were complex and far ranging. Everything from education to welfare, healthcare, energy production, taxation, EU membership, immigration and more were issues of hot debate during campaigning. Indeed, the two sides had to collaborate carefully and purposefully to outline the detailed implications of every aspect of the vote, especially of a ‘yes’ result. So it is that the Scots have decided to continue to achieve something together as part of the United Kingdom—to collaborate for a better future as partners with their neighbors to the south. Sure, Scotland has been in union with the rest of Britain for more than three hundred years, and the relationship has not been all rosy. But, together the Great British people have achieved much with Scotland as an integral part. Surely they can continue their collaboration with a Scotland that has spoken its peaceful, democratic voice.

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uando pensamos en la celebración de la Herencia Hispana en los Estados Unidos, el tema nos lleva a hablar sobre comida, música y costumbres en general. ¿Pero, qué es lo que realmente debemos celebrar en este mes tan especial para muchos? Hagamos un poco de historia recordando como surge la celebración: El fin de la celebración es festejar las contribuciones de los hispanos en los Estados Unidos, quienes conforman en la actualidad la principal minoría del país, con una población de 50.5 millones de personas. En 1968, el Congreso autorizó al presidente Lyndon B. Johnson a que proclamara la Semana Nacional de La Herencia Hispana. Para estimular la participación, el presidente Gerald R. Ford emitió una proclama en 1974 que instaba a las escuelas y a las organizaciones de derechos humanos a participar de lleno en esa semana.Veinte años más tarde, el 17 de agosto de 1988, el presidente Ronald Reagan reiteró el llamado de Ford a un reconocimiento más amplio de los estadounidenses de origen hispano y para ello el Congreso aprobó la Ley 100-402 que amplió la celebración por un periodo de 31 días a lo que hoy se conoce como Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana – desde el 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre. Ahora se celebran la cultura y las tradiciones de los residentes en


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 nonprofi organization in June 2009 by the IRS.


este país con raíces en España, México y los países de habla hispana de Centroamérica, Suramérica y el Caribe. A nivel nacional celebramos el aporte en la política, el arte, la literatura, la milicia y el deporte. No hay un área en la cual los hispanos no se han destacado y donde indudablemente su aporte ha sido crucial. Recientemente tuve la oportunidad de hablar a un grupo de militares y civiles en Fort Jackson, Carolina del Sur y en el proceso de investigación y preparación encontré algunos detalles curiosos, entre ellos lo siguiente. La asistente personal de Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy era de la República Dominicana; Providencia Paredes. Al mismo tiempo, la Sra. Kennedy tuvo una tutora puertorriqueña, nacida en la ciudad de Ponce y que la ayudó en su aprendizaje del francés, su nombre: María Teresa Babín-Cortés. Interesante dato sobre Juan Seguín, quien peleó al lado de Davy Crockett en la defensa de El Álamo y quien sobrevivió la batalla. Sus ancestros se establecieron en lo que es hoy San Antonio, cincuenta años antes de la revolución americana. Seguín fue elegido senador de la República de Texas, y sirvió como alcalde de San Antonio por algunos términos. En 1842 es forzado a regresar a México, siendo el último alcalde hispano de San Antonio hasta que Henry Cisneros es elegido 140 años más tarde. Nuestra influencia está en los negocios donde encontramos a Marcelo Claure, boliviano de nacimiento, y que fue recientemente nombrado CEO de Sprint. Linda Alvarado, de origen mexicano, es una prominente empresaria de Colorado. En la década de los 70 se convirtió en una de las pocas mujeres pioneras en el mundo de la construcción, al fundar su propia compañía, Alvarado Constructions. Javier Palomarez es un orador muy solicitado, líder y estratega en asuntos que afectan a los consumidores en América, especialmente en la comunidad hispana, y es el actual Presidente y CEO de la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de los Estados Unidos (USHCC). Tenemos un presente de oportunidades y un futuro alentador. Continuemos construyendo para las generaciones por venir. ¡Celebremos!

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t’s so easy attach a label, lifestyle, political party or immigration status to someone and then they cease to be what they really are: a person. Marie Majarais Smith was born in Los Angeles and raised in Toronto, Canada, before coming to Greenville at the age of 16. As a first generation Canadian-American (her parents originally from the he Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines collaboration as follows: “to work with another Philippines), growing up in South Carolina was difficult. person or group in order to achieve or do something.” In this sense of the word, everyone “It was just a different world,” said Marie.“Being ethnically who has any sortdifferent of active role in society collaborates with others to get things done. was more apparent here than in Toronto.” Collaboration is one of the essential human behaviors that has allowed us to evolve to where Still, they embraced the difference, addition to thewith progress we areintoday. Working othersthat “to achieve or do something” is simple, and extremely powerful. GGreenville L O B Awas L beginning at the time.The Scottish people just voted, by a margin of 10 percent, to stay in the United Kingdom. I have After graduating with an MBA International Business, Marjarais noinhorse in the race myself, but many people in and outside of Scotland were pretty fired up about Smith became a successful projectthis manager for an automotive company historical vote. It was a quintessential exercise in democracy, a peaceful exercise of the will of and traveled the world. Eventually, herselfage back in (which, for the first time, included 16-year olds). There was a thehowever, majoritysheoffound the voting public the Upstate. whopping 85 percent turnout, reflecting both the seriousness of the decision and the passion people “I came back to Greenville because mysides marriage was falling on both felt about their apart,” view of how Scotland should be governed. said Marjarais Smith.“I didn’t necessarily associate Greenville as ‘home’, It was a laudable decision on the part of the British government to allow the Scots to but it seemed like the right thing determine was ‘home istheir where yourfate parents are.’” own in this matter. Indeed, it was an example to countries around the Not long after, Marjarais Smith entered into victim advocacy at world of how to handle regionsthe where there is a burning desire for self-government, if not Julie Valentine Center before moving to head up The immigrant services at overwhelming, and government in Westminster, recognizing independence. margin was not South Carolina Victim Assistance Network (SCVAN). She didn’t get into victims advocating because she was a victim of domestic violence, or because she came from an immigrant background. Instead, she says,“It really found me.” Today, she helps the labeled, the marginalized and the forgotten, especially within the growing immigrant community. She, along with a small team at SCVAN, is overwhelmed with cases of immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence, rape, trafficking, kidnapping and other horrors. that it would close,onhas promised “The thing about this type of work is that be it goes forever. It’s to devolve more power not only to Scotland, but also to never ‘tomorrow you are okay.’” Northern Ireland and Wales. What does havewith to dotragedy with collaboration? Well, quite a bit. While being underfunded, overwhelmed andthis dealing About the author... The lessonsees of the Scottish referendum is one of due process, civility and daily can be discouraging, Marjarais Smith hope andindependence the cooperation on have an issue was extremely contentious and emotionally charged. And, make no Marc Bolick his to these difference herreplanted work brings people who beenthat forgotten roots in Greenville mistake, this was no simple procedure. The implications of a ‘Yes’ vote for independence were bynative the system. after Europe complex andwas far ranging. Everything She living recallsinone suchfor case, where a woman kidnapped, brutally from education to welfare, healthcare, energy production, 13 years.and He raped—all has workedfor in getting taxation, EU membership, immigration and more were issues of hot debate during campaigning. beaten her abusive husband convicted for all aspects of product and the and twojustice sides had to collaborate carefully and purposefully to outline the detailed implications domestic violence. Her case was Indeed, thrown out denied to her. service creation for companies of and every aspect of the vote, especially of a ‘yes’ result. However, through Marjarais Smith others’ work, they were able to ranging from Fortune 100 it is thatcrimes the Scots haveable decided secure her a special visa for victims ofSo felonious and were to to continue to achieve something together as part of the multi-nationals to mid-sized United Kingdom—to collaborate for a better future as partners with their neighbors to the south. get her children approved as part of it—children she hadn’t seen in 13 European firms to startups. Sure, Scotland beenlife. in union with the rest of Britain for more than three hundred years, and the years she came to America to give them has a better Marcbecause is managing partner relationship has not been all rosy. But, together the Great British people have achieved much with in the“In USthose of DesignThinkers moments when you’ve really done something—really Group, an international as an integral part. Surely they can continue their collaboration with a Scotland that has impacted lives—it’sdesignamazing,” sheScotland says. driven agency. spoken its peaceful, Theinnovation work is never easy and little recognition comesdemocratic from it, butvoice. for HeMarie is passionate about it’s all worth itusing when she can help restore joy and help someone the power of service design become a part of and contribute to their community. thinking to help companies what it to comes build“That’s their capacity work down to, people and the humanity of what you are doing. At the end of the day, we work under the premise that collaboratively, to innovate and no one deserves to be victimized, regardless.” to solve vexing problems.. For Marie and SCVAN, it’s not about a label, citizenship status, race or sexuality. It’s not about politics or party. It’s about stripping away all of our labels and seeing people for what they are: humans. “People deserve to see their potential and be given the tools to reach that and give back to the community,” she says.“To have joy and be given opportunities to share experiences in order to contribute to a better community.”


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Q4 2014 // Business Black Box

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Business Black Box - Q4 - 2014  

Upstate South Carolina's Business Magazine.

Business Black Box - Q4 - 2014  

Upstate South Carolina's Business Magazine.