Business Black Box Q1 2014

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I S S U E . . .


Business Black Box Awards

Small Town, S.C.: The Taylors Revitalization Project



BOX For more from Business Black Box visit




Q1 2014 // Business Black Box

Inside the Mind of Bill Masters


Michael Bolick, Selah Genomics, Biotechnology

BANKING CENTERED AROUND ME. we chose The Palmetto Bank and their Commercial Banking Team. Their local decision making and flexibility are crucial to our growth-mode business plan. We can’t afford to wait in this industry. They provide the lending solutions and customized cash management tools which enable us to grow. The Palmetto Bank gives us the edge we need. They get it.”

1 . 8 0 0 . PA L . B A N K Member FDIC


“Innovation is our calling card, so we needed a bank with innovative solutions. That’s why



I S S U E . . .


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Launch: SimuMed Nursing Lab

Speed Pitch: SimuMed Nursing Lab




Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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11 Questions: David Sudduth


Trailblazer: Zach Eikenberry


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What Matters: Joshua Ratcliff

Well connected. At McNair Law Firm, we strive to connect technology, business and government to help our clients realize their vision and navigate the associated risks. Whether it’s by identifying their most promising opportunities or finding solutions to their most significant problems, we are committed to the success of our clients and the communities they serve.

McNair is proud to work with Upstate clients like Oconee County on matters such as FOCUS: a project to install 245 miles of fiber optic backbone in

To learn more about our attorneys serving the Upstate, visit

the county, providing a communications network that will better support community economic development, education and public safety.

South Carolina


Rita M. McKinney

McNair Law Firm, P.A.

Managing Shareholder

104 South Main Street, Suite 700

of the Upstate Unit

Greenville, SC 29601


North Carolina








Jordana Megonigal

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



Geoff Wasserman


Chris Heuvel






Marc Bolick Andy Coburn Eric Dodds Chip Felkel Steven Hahn Leslie Hayes Evelyn Lugo Walker McKay Josh Overstreet Alison Storm

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


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SENIOR DESIGNER Chris Heuvel ART DIRECTOR Catherine Roberts PHOTOGRAPHY Carter Tippins, Fisheye Studios Shawn Stom Photography TRAFFIC COORDINATOR Jessica Riddle




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


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

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


Daniel Lovelace Jessica Riddle

Business Black Box (Vol.6, Issue 1) 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. 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.


Joshua Moore, Studio 7 SPEC IAL THANKS Kate DiNatale, Kate DiNatale Vintage

Mallory Jones, Fly Formal


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




EvEry EvEnt hErE is a homE run. Fluor Field makes special events more special. With so many versatile spaces, we’re able to accommodate just about any event you can dream up. Whether it’s a rehearsal dinner in the luxury suites, a community fundraiser throughout the concourse, a wedding reception in The 500 Club, a holiday party in the clubhouse, or even a road race with the finish line behind home plate, we promise a professional, fun and unique event experience unlike any other.

For more information, call the drive at 864.240.4517.

tickets at





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amy wood, anchor, wspa



tony snipes, business coach & entrepreneur

chip felkel, ceo, the felkel group



coleman kirven, commercial banking executive, the palmetto bank

julie godshall-brown, president, godshall staffing


13. todd korahais, operating partner, keller williams realty

andy coburn, attorney, wyche law firm


14. terry weaver, ceo, chief executive boards international

maxim williams, leadership develoment, apple


15. sam patrick, ceo, patrick marketing & communications

tiffany hughes, director of marketing, meyco products


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

michael bolick, president, lab 21



john deworken, partner, sunnie & deworken

greg hillman, upstate director, scra/sclaunch



bill west, managing partner, the atlantic partners

ravi sastry, vp of sales & marketing, immedion


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

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

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For complete bios on our advisory council visit


20. nigel robertson, anchor, wyff

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box




When it’s Party Time

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here was a song in the ‘60s by The Byrds that started off: “To every thing (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn turn).” You know the song. Today, most every one knows that song, and from time to time can quote it accordingly. Fewer people know that the lyrics are Biblical, coming from the third chapter of the book Ecclesiastes. And fewer still know that further down in the passage, there is an expansion the definitions of what should fill our time. In verse 13, it says “every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor.” No, this isn’t a sermon—it’s simply a reminder of what we, in our careers, too often forget. Sometimes, we have to just step back and celebrate what we’ve already done. It’s one of the most basic foundations of our culture—and of societies across the globe—and yet, too often, we will ignore it. In American culture, there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it. After all, someone once told me, how can we “stop and smell the roses” when someone still has to mow the lawn? So yes, it feels unnatural. It feels like we should be working instead of playing. We feel the same way, most of the time. But for us here at Business Black Box, consider this: in 2014, we will be adding a monthly business series—called The Leader Series—to offer a different level of resources to businesses in the emerging middle market space. We’ll have some new, large-scale networking events. We’re overhauling our website. We’ve added new partners. And, we’re adding some new resources to Upstate businesses and business leaders. That’s a lot of hard work. So in this issue, we decided to celebrate. In our first ever Business Black Box Awards, we’re celebrating some of the people and companies in the Upstate that are worthy of recognition, in seven different spaces. It’s some of the most fun we’ve had in the history of putting the magazine together, and we hope you like it enjoy it as much as we did making it. And, it’s our sixth birthday!! Well be pulling out all the stops at our Birthday Bash in January, around the same time this issue comes out. Hopefully we’ll get to see you there, and you can stop and raise a glass with us. If not, what will you do to celebrate all your hard work? One note: “work harder” is not an answer.

Editor, Business Black Box | 864/281-1323 x.1010 | megonigal Photo by Carter Tippins/Fish Eye Studios


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box





Individual Photographs Used

107 Photoshop Layers

original photo

color, sharpening and light effects applied

art deco frame added



Chris Heuvel

Carter Tippins Fisheye Studios

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Production Hours


Fly Formal, Joshua Moore, Kate DiNatale Vintage Q1 2014 and // Business Black Box





News and Social Media Move over, talk radio and TV…social media sites have now become the main source of news consumption for consumers. With 64 percent of U.S. adults using Facebook, half of all users go to it for news. This officially makes Facebook the most important social media source of news in the U.S., with Youtube and Twitter at two and three, respectively.

get news from a single social media source (85 percent of that is on Facebook).

go to two different social media sources.

get news from at least three sources.

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For more on this study, visit:

Clean Air for Everyone

America’s Global Image

As the EPA studies federal requirements for the Clean Air Act, there’s a lot you can do to get involved in making the Upstate’s air quality better. Businesses can check out these strategies from Clean Air Upstate, and then sign the pledge showing your support. Every person matters, so check it out today!

Many believe that China is becoming the new world power. However, in a study done by PewResearch Global, results show that attitudes toward America’s image is still more positive than those toward China’s global image.

Check out Strategies

Sign The Pledge

For more on this study, visit: 2013/07/18/americas-global-image-remains-more-positivethan-chinas/


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


Just Get Started



The Cheat Sheet! It’s hard to keep up with everything going on in certain industries, especially if you aren’t working in that industry. But because it’s important—both to know what is going on around you and to realize the full potential of what lies within the Upstate—so we’re providing you a monthly Cheat Sheet, an industry specific guide to what’s happening in the Upstate business community.

So, you’ve got this business idea, but you’re not really sure what to do with it. You don’t have a team built, not really an idea of what to do next, but it’s a really good idea that you think has some staying power.

Check out our January issue on our site, and sign up for our updates to keep track of each new version that appears!

Now what?

For more info, or to register, check out

Scan the QR code to sign up for informative BBB updates!

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On February 21, Start Up Spartanburg kicks off, and for one weekend, you can pitch, plan and perfect that idea and take it to a new level. Based off of a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures, all Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

t no s is s a litic e. It i s o “P am bu a g nest r ea

Here is preview of January’s Politics edition!

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box








WHAT: Business Black Box’s LEADER Series, presented by McNair Law Firm and Sandlapper Securities WHERE: 104 S. Main St, Suite 700, Greenville, South Carolina WHEN:February 11 & March 11 at 3:30 p.m. The Leader Series, a new monthly business series, will focus on topics of interest for businesses in the emerging middle markets pace. From workforce development to the top issues facing these fast-growth businesses, we’ll find the experts you should hear from, and connect you with the people you need to know. FOR MORE INFO:



WHAT: Health Care Reform & You WHERE: SC Blue ,1025 Woodruff Road Greenville, South Carolina WHEN: February 15, 2014


Clemson Ideas

Like the idea of helping fund a startup? How about a local one? Well, through, you can do just that. The locally-based crowdfunding site features businesses from Clemson faculty, staff, alumni and students. It’s an easy way to get involved in a small start-up in a big way.

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With the changes coming to health care, learn how they impact you personally and how they will impact small and large businesses. FOR MORE INFO:



WHAT: 2nd Annual Jr. FLL Upstate Robotics Expo WHERE: Spartanburg Science Center Spartanburg, South Carolina WHEN: March 8, 2014 The second year of the Junior First Lego League that seeks to encourage a curiosity in kids for science and engineering by making presentations of real world problems and showing solutions built in Legos. FOR MORE INFO:


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box

“The golden rule for every business man is this: ‘Put yourself in your customer’s place.’”




ll successful entrepreneurs have a few things in common. Creativity, vision, courage, determination and a few brain cells. The one character that seems to separate the great ones from the “mom and pops,” and perhaps the most important trait of all, is the ability and willingness to listen. Most successful ventures can trace their ultimate victory to a few critical moments when a pieces of direction—from outside of their own cranium—catapulted their projects to higher levels. These businesses all seem to garner strength from sources, both internal and external, that are willing to help with new ideas, tempered advice and guidance. Given the pervasive penchant for hospitality that the South is so famous for, it is no mystery that the entrepreneurial community in Upstate South Carolina is comprised of a wealth of highly skilled and experienced mentors who happily go out of their way to help budding entrepreneurs. In fact, it is safe to state that there are more valuable mentors in our midst than there are viable startup projects. Mentors and advisors give their time and energy to satisfy one single objective within themselves. The simple human desire to share their knowledge and experiences with others in the hopes that they may help someone else achieve their goals. Yet, time and time again, the message never reaches the person to whom it is directed. The attempt to effectively convey solid advice to a needy project is too


Steven Hahn is a former partner in a management consulting firm, and has launched several successful businesses. He presently serves as the Director of Entrepreneurial Systems at the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

often hampered by an unfortunate shortcoming in human communication. It becomes a classic case of a flawed system of delivery. Surely, the advice may sometimes be irrelevant, but, in many cases, the entrepreneur is simply not listening. Riddled with misinformation, myth, a lack of specific experience and trapped by a vision much too rigid and narrow for its own good, the entrepreneur is stubbornly unable to comprehend the immense value of the suggestion at hand. A concept can become enormously stronger, an organization more efficient, and a strategy more fruitful when seasoned with expertise, experience and the valuable lessons of trial-and-failure. This is not to suggest a blind following of any and all advice. But, once the source of the opinion has been adequately vetted, it would be wise to rein back one’s obstinacy and consider deeply the guidance of trusted advisors. Determination and vision are essential to the accomplishment of any goal, but good ole’ bullheadedness often keeps the entrepreneur from ever realizing the great financial potential of a solid business idea. Dear entrepreneurs, Your advisors have already been where you are going; they have found those solutions that work— and more importantly those that don’t. Like it or not, they are right more times than not. Sometimes, all you have to do is to listen.


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Dear Tech Colleges Realtors Banks Law Offices Interior Designers Financial Services Providers Insurance/Benefits Providers Art Galleries Hotels Software Solutions Providers IT Support Providers

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


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

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


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


SIMUMED KITS PORTABLE NURSING LABS made by SimuMed, LLC greenville, sc

for more info, visit Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye Studios

From S.C. to the World



hen you work with people from other countries, you expect there to be differences in the way they look at things, the way they communicate, even in the way they think. After all, we may be from opposite sides of the world with completely different life experiences, and we may speak a language that is completely foreign to the other. So, we are not really surprised when we encounter “cultural differences” based on national origin. What about other cultural differences? Specifically, what about company culture and can this really be as significant as one’s national, ethnic or even linguistic culture? The answer is clearly, yes. Just as your traditional, geographic or ethnic culture can have a huge influence on the way you see things, an organization’s culture can have a big impact on its success. Look no further than the Virgin Group, founded by the charismatic Sir Richard Branson. Branson started his first business at the age of 16, and by age 22 had founded Virgin Records. The group now comprises 400 businesses, amongst themVirgin Atlantic (an airline) and the first-ever commercial space flight company,Virgin Galactic. To say that people who work at Virgin have a culture of innovation is an understatement. In contrast, consider just about any global bank and how they have had to reign in a culture of unrestrained profit-seeking that led to the financial crisis. Not only have most banks had to deal with


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. For the past ten years he has run Dmarc8 International, a consulting firm that helps clients to qualify, plan and implement innovative growth strategies. Marc is also a partner with the international design driven service innovation firm, DesignThinkers Group.


record losses as a result of the crisis, they are now required to adhere to a level of regulation that is imposing costs far beyond those prior to the Great Recession. A culture of greater and greater risk taking and an unrealistic expectation of endless and ever-increasing returns led to lending practices that would have made the neighborhood bank manager of even 10 years ago cringe. Every organization has a specific culture, whether you actively manage it or not. It is the sum total of your values, vision and people, how they work, the way you view your customers and stakeholders, and how all these parts are tied together through rewards and incentives. It may not always be obvious or transparent, and different people in your organization might describe your culture differently. But make no mistake, you have a culture. And we are not talking about whether you eat rice for breakfast, or acknowledge an agreement by shaking hands.Your culture is the very soul of your organization and actively managing your culture can make all the difference in how well your team performs. So, the next time you marvel over how industrious people of a particular nationality are, or how amazing the cuisine was in that last country you visited, think of how strong the force of culture is in those people and places. Imagine if you could build and harness a force like that in your organization. What could you collectively achieve if you had a great culture where you work?

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Traffic Jam:

South Carolina’s Transportation Issues

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In 2013, the S.C. legislature allocated $600 million towards roads and bridges. The SCDOT says it’ll need another $29 Billion over the next 20 years just to bring our roads to “good” condition. Meanwhile, S.C. boasts the fourth largest state highway system and fourth lowest state gas tax. It made us think: When it comes to S.C.’s transportation issues, which ones are the biggest?


Q1 2014 ////Business BusinessBlack BlackBox Box


The one-time allocation made in 2013 was an important step, but must be followed by collaborative and innovative actions that develop recurring additional funding for transportation projects that maintain and fix current roads and aging infrastructure, support increased safety and make it easier to move people and goods through the state. Investing in roads, bridges and other transportation solutions will make it easier (and safer) for South Carolina residents to get from place to place while also enhancing the ability for the state to continue to attract new businesses and jobs.

Dean Hybl

Executive Director, Ten at the Top

Here are my two “real-world” 2014 priorities for Greenville County transportation issues: 1) Since 98 percent of our citizens use roads and want to “fix roads, bridges, and intersections,” our County Council has just appointed a Citizens Roads Advisory Commission (CRAC) to hold multiple hearings and develop a priority list for fixing roads in Greenville County. Hopefully, the CRAC list will validate the needs for road repairs and high citizen support levels. If there is need and support, there are viable local option solutions. 2) As Chair of the Greenville County Economic Development Corporation that owns 3.4 miles of former railroad right-of-way parallel to Laurens Road between Downtown and CU-ICAR, our goal for 2014 is initiate a multi-modal (bicycles, walkers, buses, and ePODs (electric Personal On-demand Driverless) transport corridor that is a 21st century model for urban mobility solutions. Improved connectivity around mobility hubs on the GCEDC corridor will attract GreenVillages development.

“As we spend billions of dollars on transportation in coming years, we need to be considering alternatives that improve our quality of life rather than leave us stuck in traffic.”

Almost all our planning is for bigger highways that will become more congested during rush hours with cars that are parked most of the day. We’re putting little thought into better transportation options. Most people in Greenville don’t see traditional mass transit as convenient enough to get out of their cars. There are emerging personal rapid transit solutions we should be considering that are shared vehicles, so they are less expensive than personal cars, yet take you to your home or office, so they are convenient. As we spend billions of dollars on transportation in coming years, we need to be considering alternatives that improve our quality of life, rather than leave us stuck in traffic.

John Warner

CEO & Founder, InnoVenture

We need to look at long term solutions for transportation issues. Unfortunately, our federal and state political leaders tend to look no further than the next election, and transportation leaders seem to use limited funds to respond to needs that seem most critical and where the public and/or lobbyists have the most interest. The bottom line for Greenville is: Potential state solutions are “band-aids” and don’t offer solutions to Greenville concerns.

GreenVillages are green, attractive, livable, connected places in which people love to live, work, shop, dine, and play. Private equity funding will partner with public assets to build GreenVillages hubs with retail, office, and housing development.

Fred Payne

Chairman Greenville County Economic Development Corporation

On a recent road-trip to and from the Orange Bowl in Miami, for a Clemson game, I noticed a distinct difference between the hundreds of miles I traveled in Georgia and Florida and that of South Carolina’s interstates. However, it’s not what the bumps and holes do to my car that concern me, it’s the impact those holes have on the state’s ability to provide safe roads and the state’s ability to continue to grow business. The Legislature has a tremendous opportunity this year to continue funding roads at a high level established last year to ensure safe roads, yet roads that can efficiently move goods—without which jobs and capital investment will suffer.

John DeWorken

Chairman The Sunnie & DeWorken Group

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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While the $29 billion DOT projection may seem intimidating and far-reaching, what it really does is simply illustrate that South Carolina has transportation needs that are significant and that will require strategic and long-term solutions. The state did not get into this situation overnight, and there is no “silver bullet” that will quickly and easily fix all the transportation issues in South Carolina.


It seems like everyone these days has an award for one thing or another—us, we wanted to focus on the people who deserved the accolades but might not have ever been acknowledged for them. So we did it a little differently—we took your votes, passed them through our advisory council of business leaders, and let the nominees flow through. In the end, we walked away with seven Upstate business champions that you should know…now. We couldn’t have picked them better if we did it ourselves.


What does it mean to be the “Best Boss?” Well, according to Trevor Gordon, founder and owner of Sandlapper Securities, it’s somebody that understands when to give up the reins, and when to be “dictatorial.” “You can’t live your entire life in a committee,” Gordon says. “There are times you have to be firmly decisive, but at the same time that means giving respect to those that you’ve empowered to do what you need to get done for your overall business operation. It means trusting those around you, but knowing when to pull it back if you have to and ultimately being responsible for the end decision whether you make it or not.” Since 2005, when Sandlapper Securities first began, the firm has grown to include 13 full time employees and 50 independent advisors across the nation, as well as locating to larger facilities and opening a retail location. In the past year alone, the firm has been recognized as South Carolina’s #1 Small Business of the Year, and as the Second fastest Growing Company in South Carolina. The growth isn’t something Gordon takes lightly; in fact, growth is one of the major focuses he has for each of his employees. “I feel like I’ve created an environment where people can grow,” he says. “I’ve had the luxury of starting at the bottom, pushing a mailroom cart. I wouldn’t be here


today if I had gotten pigeonholed then, and I probably wouldn’t have created these companies.” But apart from employee growth is a cultural paradigm that Gordon uses to promote a healthy, balanced life for each and every employee, as he understands that creating a positive business environment and culture is what leads to success. “We’re results oriented,” he says. “You don’t have to punch a clock, and in fact, I don’t want people to punch a clock. There are certain things that have to be achieved during certain hours—obviously, trading hours are very important— but as long as we have coverage for those functions, we can have a little more flexibility toward the sales efforts and the business development.” But even more than the bottom line from business development, Gordon was nominated for this award for the value he places on his employees—and their families. “I’m in the office at 7 a.m. every day, but I leave at 4 p.m. to pick my children up from school every day,” he says. “That doesn’t mean that I’ve clocked out for the day. My drive time is all work…because the company has got to move forward. “But I don’t want my career to move forward at the expense of my children. And I want that to be the same for everybody that’s affiliated with our organization. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our children for our success.”

“ My drive time is all work... because the company has got to move forward.” TREVOR GORDON

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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“A ‘Best Place to Work’... is a place where people can bring their complete selves to work.” CELESTE BETHELL PURDIE


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box

In this world, having an innovative workforce is key to being able to grow your company. And really good companies understand that the key to having that kind of workforce is to give them a place where the employees themselves can thrive and grow. Part of that, according to Celeste Bethell Purdie, is ensuring that the company itself is diverse. “We realize that with diversity comes different thoughts and different ideas,” says Purdie, who is the Associate Director of Human Resources for Verizon. “Having an innovative workforce with a lot of different ideas is really important, and you can’t have that if you don’t have diversity in the workplace.” The company has a solid track record, with women and minorities making up 60 percent of their workforce and holding 30 percent and 22 percent of the management positions, respectively. But for Verizon, who has been named to multiple lists for their work culture— for their focus on new parents (Working Mother’s 2012 Best Companies for Multicultural Women), for veterans (G.I. Jobs magazine’s Top 100 Militaryfriendly employers), and for Hispanics (ranked second as HispanicBusiness. com’s Diversity Elite 60 List)—each rank is simply verification of something they already know: diversity is one of the most fundamental assets in businesses today. But even more important than diversity is the energy that the company spends in celebrating and building up their people, Purdie says. From honoring veterans on Veteran’s Day to the “Cheers

for Peers” program, where employees can celebrate accomplishments by coworkers, the culture is geared toward honoring success. Success is one thing. Growth is another. And with an added focus on education for their employees, Verizon stands to build some of their best employees internally, as Verizon employees are encouraged to go back to school. In a company that offers tuition help, and in some call centers even have universities on site (in Greenville, it’s through Strayer University), the culture honors growth in a way virtually unheard of across the corporate community. Two Greenville employees are currently working on their Ph.Ds. “A ‘best place to work’ is a place where your employees enjoy coming to work, and a place where the public endorses that the company is a great place to work,” says Purdie. But, “It’s also a place where people can bring their complete selves to work.” A “complete self,” she adds, means that regardless of religion, gender, ethnicity or any other differentiator, someone can come to work and know that they are valued for who they are—and the many facets that comprise that “whole” person. The value in this is clear. “It allows our employees to have some integrity because they are bringing their complete selves. I think that’s a best place to work.”

“Exper ience is the best teacher.” At least, that’s how Traci Fant sees it. As founder of Think2xTwice. org and a community activist in a myr iad of causes, Fant knows what reality looks like for many women, children and teens whose lives are far from perfect. After losing two brothers to violence growing up, and becoming a victim of domestic violence herself, Fant decided to take action. She wanted people to have a place and an outlet to start discussions that could help lead to effective—and lasting—change. “I always knew there was a need for that, so why not create it,” Fant asks. As a result, Fant has become instrumental in causes, and a go-to for communities to step up and make their voices heard. From domestic violence to child abuse, teen violence and drug use, bullying and social injustice, Fant is there to listen, and if needed, to help launch a movement. “My organization is based on different aspects of my life—things I’ve seen and things I’ve experienced,” she says, considering her life struggles and challenges. “But experience is the best teacher. People want to know that the person they’re talking to knows where they’re coming from.”


It was this passion that drove Fant to visit Newtown, Conn., days after elementary school shootings left the nation stunned. After organizing a banner to be signed from hundreds of people from across the Upstate, she personally drove the banner to first responders in Newtown to present it to them, listen to them, and offer support. “The Mayor looked at me and said, ‘You’ve come all the way from South Carolina to do this?’ And the way she looked at me at that moment…I knew then that that was what I was supposed to do,” Fant remembers. Although you may find Fant in the middle of crowds when there is something big going on, or in protest at a park to bring awareness to a cause, it’s never really about the attention. “To me, it is about trying to br ing people together and find some unity,” she says, and it’s clear that community is at the forefront of her mind—and not just hers, but those who are going through hardships that she understands. “I know what you’re going through, because I’ve been there.”

“ To me, it is about trying to bring people together and find some unity.” TRACI FANT

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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TAMMY JOHNSON “ You’ve always got to be waiting for the opportunity and you’ve got to be ready to jump.” TAMMY JOHNSON


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


As an entrepreneur, success and growth is complicated enough. But setting yourself apart from the crowd of other self-starters adds its own challenges. For Tammy Johnson, however, the key is being able to stay attuned to the culture, climate and economy around you. “You’ve always got to be waiting for the opportunity and you’ve got to be ready to jump at the opportunity when it presents itself,” she says. It’s that practice—of waiting, ready to jump if necessary—that has established Johnson as one of the most formidable entrepreneurs rising out of the Upstate. Beginning with Liquid Catering in 2010, a catering company that focuses solely on beverages, Johnson began to integrate herself into the business community. At the young age of 26, she took a concept that came out of her experience with a catering division of a regional restaurant chain, and simply decided to jump in and make it happen. Today, sales have tripled, and the company now includes five full time employees with over 50 part timers. Then, in 2013, Johnson took up a second business, renovating a property in the West End, and effectively bringing the Old Cigar Warehouse to the Upstate as a premier Main Street event venue. Still, successful ventures alone do not make a good entrepreneur, Johnson says. Instead, she adds, you must maintain a certain awareness of the greater responsibilities that come with it. “In my mind, I feel like more community awareness and more business development is crucial,” she

says. “You can’t get bogged down in the little stuff. You can’t get bogged down in the day-to-day. I’ve got to be focused on bigger things.” Part of those “bigger things” includes community involvement, a responsibility that Johnson does not take lightly. She is greatly involved in the local entrepreneur and business community helping give back and encourage economic growth in her own backyard, serving as the Chair of PULSE, the Chamber’s young professionals group, mentoring in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, volunteering in the past four Hands on Greenville Days, serving on the City of Greenville’s ATAX committee. In addition, starting in 2014 she will begin a stint on the Greenville Chamber’s Board of Advisors. Johnson was also selected to judge Clemson University’s 2013 MBA School’s Entrepreneur competition, was a finalist for the Chamber’s 2012 Young Professional of the Year, and is currently a nominee for South Carolina’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year via the South Carolina Small Business Administration. And while accolades and recognition is great, Johnson hasn’t lost track of what got her to where she is today. “I put my heart and soul into that business,” she says, noting that sometimes hard work and determination is the only thing pushing an entrepreneur forward. “You wait. You wait and you see. You’ll see that a young woman can do something and can make a difference.”

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TARYN SCHER “ If I think something is wrong or needs to be changed... I’ve never been afraid to say that.” TARYN SCHER


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


A leader, says Taryn Scher, is “somebody who thinks differently. “One, they just get it. But two, they see the future possibility there and they’re open to it.” For the 30-year-old New Yorkerturned-South Carolinian, it’s that type of quality that she most admires in local leaders, although she’ll admit, she is more focused on community integration and volunteerism than necessarily examining the big picture. So, when she moved southward, due to her husband’s medical residency, she wasted no time in getting personally involved. Still working as a consultant for her former firm in New York, she first started her own business—TKPR— to serve as a public relations agent and consultant. But she soon turned her sights to the many different organizations and businesses that she knew she could help. “I think, when you move from somewhere else and you don’t know anybody, it’s really important to find somewhere to get involved,” Scher notes. Her first undertaking: Euphoria—a food, wine and music festival that brings foodies from all over the nation into the heart of Greenville. Today, Scher is serving her fourth year on the board of Euphoria, where she still maintains PR efforts for the group. In addition, she’ll serve her third year on the advisory board for the Small Business Development Center, and as chair of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. She’s also taking on projects that are near and dear to the Upstate community, like the Duck Derby, the Center for Colon Cancer research and TEDx Greenville. She’s been responsible for high-level response to the Upstate community by publications

like US Air’s in-flight magazine as well as Southern Living. “When I tell people to volunteer I don’t just mean to necessarily just go buy Toys for Tots or donate canned goods or go help in a hospital,” Scher says. “I mean to donate their services. If that’s what they do and they can actually offer it to an organization… volunteer those services.” Despite being one of the youngest people in most of the rooms she’s found herself in, Scher has had little problem affecting positive change in the Upstate. “I think that’s what’s been really fun—being a Northerner I think I can get away with a little bit more— but that is my personality, to just say what I’m thinking,” she says. “If I think something is wrong or needs to be changed, or needs to be done differently, I’ve never been afraid to say that.” But while she may credit her outspokenness, there is no doubt that since her move into South Carolina only six years ago, Scher has made her mark on the Upstate. In addition to most recently being honored as one of GSA Business Journal’s 13 Visionaries for 2013, and as Greenville Business and Professional Women’s Young Careerist, Scher also holds the title of the Small Business Administration’s South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Still, she’s quick to note that she didn’t get there alone. “I think the biggest thing I learned along the way was to ask for help,” she notes. “You don’t have to know everything and you’re probably better off not knowing everything. Just know what you’re really good at and then ask for help from other people.”

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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Q1 2014 // Business Black Box

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When considering green initiatives in the Upstate, one would be hard pressed to find a business as environmentallyconscious as Milliken. The company—comprised of 37 different manufacturing locations in four countries—has long been a champion in this area, even back into the 1900s, but in recent years has expanded efforts consciously. In 1992, the company developed its first “zero landfill plan,” which was designed to decrease waste to a point almost unheard of at that time. (All waste is recycled or reused, and any remaining is tagged as “waste energy”— sent to an incinerator that provides energy back into the plants.) According to Cassidy Carlile, the Corporate Environmental Manger for Milliken, these initiatives aren’t just about making a good decision for the benefit of the environment. “The waste area is one of those things that I feel we have really been a leader in the industry,” he says. “There’s some value to that waste—more than just filling up a landfill.” But that’s hardly the end of Milliken’s efforts. Forestry offsets and natural preservation were a large passion for the late Roger Milliken, a focus that was invariably passed on to the corporate level. (The Milliken family of companies owns 130,000 acres of sustainably managed forests; the Spartanburg campus is a 600acre arboretum.) At the same time, a comprehensive data-gathering system integrates all Milliken locations, gauging their progress against four major components: energy, water, waste and greenhouse gases.


The efforts work. Over the past 15 years, Milliken’s floor covering division alone has reduced its eco-footprint by 50 percent, globally. The company sees a two percent reduction every year, continually, Carlile notes. And in what might be the most impressive proof: the company as a whole is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative—offsetting their carbon footprint with their green initiatives. The focus is also seen in the many products coming out of Milliken—far more than just carpets, the company thrives in chemical applications like washable ink for markers, textiles that go into tires that improve gas mileage, and carpet with recyclable content. “We ask,‘How can we make products that are more sustainable,’” Carlile says. “How do we make products that ‘do good?’ That use less energy in their use, or offer a conversion [for energy]?” And while Milliken has found the economic value in their sustainability efforts, Carlile realizes that starting efforts can be challenging for businesses. “Obviously the [efforts] that have a bottom line benefit are the ones that are easy,” he notes.“When you get into the other ones that don’t have as obvious a payback, you have to balance their economic value with the sustainability impact.” But in the end, sometimes that equation doesn’t make a strong enough argument for businesses that run on the bottom line. In those instances, for Milliken, Carlile notes, “We do some things just because they are the right thing to do.”

“ There’s some value to that wastemore than just filling up a landfill.” CASSIDY CARLILE

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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In January of 2010, Clemson University moved all of their MBA programs to their new downtown location at Clemson at the Falls. In March 2010, Greg Pickett came on board as the Associate Dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Science, and since that point, Clemson has put itself at the forefront of the conversation when it comes to innovation in education. Starting first with an assessment of Clemson’s position in the marketplace, Pickett and his team began thinking about what would be required in education in the 21st century. Realizing that entrepreneurship and innovation were the goals of the future, the team began adding pieces at a time into the arsenal. First, the MBA-e, a masters-level degree in entrepreneurship, focused largely on launching new startups. They’ve added a Friday speaker series and a women’s leadership panel—both featuring some of the Upstate’s top business leaders as speakers. A Launchpad series—a business ideas competition of sorts— provides $20,000 in prize money to a start up. And most recently the MBA-e will expand to house a parttime version, with online and weekend classes for the already-busy working professional. All this will be housed in the new ONE building in downtown Greenville that opens early 2014. “The students are certainly receiving quality MBA education, but we’ve added all those other pieces,” Pickett says of the extent of Clemson’s programs. “We


think that whether or not a student launches a business or not, that going into the marketplace today, if you can’t speak to your ability to take an idea from inception to commercialization or to a positive revenue, then what value add might you have for that business? We think its a better value proposition for a student to say, ‘Look at what I know how to do,’ even if they apply that in a corporate marketplace.” It begs the question: can entrepreneurism be taught? For Pickett, it’s a two-sided question—but one that, when provided the right support structure, can be effective every time. “You will find folks that say that you can’t teach entrepreneurship, but you can teach those skill sets that are required of every entrepreneur,” Pickett says. “And you can build, as we have, this support network, that we think will yield, in the future, very successful entrepreneurs, that will stay here in Greenville because this is where their network is.” For Pickett, innovation is about “solving problems uniquely, and taking advantage of opportunities with the resources that are available.” And although he is quick to tout the university’s growth in providing opportunities for innovation, he only hesitantly accepts that he, too, in doing so, is an innovator himself. “Well, I certainly haven’t gone out and invented a new widget,” he notes. “But in terms of education, I think we’re pretty unique in this state.”

“ In terms of education, I think we’re pretty unique in this state.” GREG PICKETT

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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elieve what you choose about economic recovery, but the fact is that markets ebb and flow and the market belonging to your business is probably no different. This is fine for economic theorists, but for practitioners, it feels a little like surfing—waiting desperately for that next wave and then hoping to paddle hard enough to get up and stay balanced long enough to get to shore. Now, to this image of the surfer, add a stick in each hand and one on his nose upon each of which rests a spinning plate. His job is to ride the wave while balancing the sticks and keeping the plates—employee issues, Obamacare, year-end performance measures, and the never-ending cycle of recruiting, payroll and benefits. Now you have a good metaphor for handling HR in 2014 and perhaps a fear that—as the person responsible—you are headed for a wipe out! How does anyone make it work successfully? There is no one right answer, but the seemingly dissimilar acts of surfing and plate spinning have three principles in common that point us in the right direction, focus, balance and the ability to let go. This quarter, we’re going to look at focus. Focus. A successful surfer must block out everything except the feel of the board under their feet and the rhythm of the water. You can do anything but you cannot do everything, and you can do many



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.


things, but you cannot do them all at the same time. Last month, when driving down a city street, I happened to glance into the cars on either side at the stop light. On the left was a man with earbuds in his ears doing—I am not making this up—a Sudoku puzzle book with a pen. On the right was a woman, earbuds in her ears, talking rapidly into the phone and putting on makeup. Oh, and both of these people were allegedly also driving! In a world where multitasking has risen to an art form, focus seems archaic, but it is the only way anything actually gets done. What are you trying to accomplish with your HR strategy in 2014? Perhaps a better question is do you have an HR strategy? Most of the time, HR comes in to fix a problem or comply with a regulation—and the real power of putting the right people in the right positions, motivated and rewarded to do the best possible work—becomes an afterthought if it’s thought of at all. What is your HR Strategy for 2014? At The Hayes Approach, we have developed the Employee Life Cycle to help our clients think through their HR needs. This cycle starts with the business needs that drive HR and layers in the HR tasks that fill those needs. I recommend you take two hours in January and, eliminating all other distractions, answer the following questions: • What is your business trying to accomplish in 2014? • How do your employee strategies support that focus? For a free look at our Employee Life Cycle to help you in your thinking, go to www.thehayesapproach. com and click on the link! Next quarter, we look at strategies for balancing multiple areas of priority within your strategy. Happy planning and Happy 2014!

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As educational systems evolve and entrepreneurship is celebrated, innovative high schools are gaining more and more traction across the U.S.In the Upstate, there’s only one way to get started—put an entrepreneur in charge.

Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye Studios


TRAILBLAZER. By Josh Overstreet

In economic development, there are two ways to recruit talent—a “hunting” approach, where you recruit people to fill jobs or places you have; and a “farming” approach, where a community looks to its own backyard, and with great education and stewardship builds up its own talented workforce. It should come as no surprise which method Zach Eikenberry— originally from a small, farming community in Indiana—prefers. But it was in a meeting with the NEXT group and local CEOs that he first discussed how the business community can get involved and impact local education. “I happened to be the guy who said we should start a school,” he remembers, and soon found himself with the title of Planning Coordinator for the future NEXT High School. A lifelong entrepreneur, Eikenberry realized early that “the only job security I can have in my life is if I hire myself.” So he began giving life to his ideas and out of a myriad of ideas, eight came to fruition. Of those eight, three were failures, three more were “neutral” and two were successful. By December 2009, he had relocated to Greenville, having fallen in love with the city when on his way to Charleston. Once in Greenville, he became involved with the NEXT Group, where initial vision groups and input from community and education leaders pinpointed the best age range to focus on—the high school level. Today, Eikenberry is taking that school—the NEXT High School— from a blank page to reality. After researching various education methods and schools, Eikenberry found CART—the Center for Advanced Research and Technology—in Fresno,

Calif., and discovered something interesting about their curriculum: they use project-based curriculum as the basis for education. Skeptical at first, he then was able to witness a project in which the students were called upon to solve a crime. They had set up a mock crime scene, complete with the sheriff and coroner there to give out the assignment. In the assignment, students were required to utilize biology and anatomy, angles and vectors from geometry, velocity from physics, writing and grammar skills in order to communicate their findings. Finally, they read Shakespeare’s Hamlet in order to see how death plays on society. “Students who had never read in their life were reading the FBI manual and Hamlet,” says Eikenberry. Seeing CART’s innovation and that their attendance and graduation rates are at extraordinary levels, in some cases doubling national averages, Eikenberry envisioned the same kind of success here in Greenville. The NEXT High School will, therefore, be based around four ideas, or “pillars”— it will use project-based learning, be technology driven, and will have flexible space and flexible time. The students would work with teachers and create individualized schedules and deadlines for projects and be free to work on their own and being responsible to complete their own work. “Imagine being able to go to school where you actually go to a desk or a workstation that is yours and you break out to labs or conference rooms,” Eikenberry says. “What does it mean for our young people to be ready for life after school and to be significant?” For NEXT High School, the idea that the group wants to teach is one

of significance, not necessarily one of success. They don’t only want to impart knowledge to students, but also be sure they know how to apply that knowledge in real world market and be ready to make an impact when they are handed their diplomas. “That is the onus of wisdom—to be able to think well about a problem, critical thinking, to have your substance and content line up with rhetoric and presentation so you can actually implement a solution,” says Eikenberry. According to Eikenberry, with NEXT High School, the Upstate, the state of South Carolina and the Southeast region all have the potential to benefit from this dynamic educational paradigm. In addition to being pioneers in a new area of education, the local economy would benefit with students being required to make an impact in their area, but the students will also have a chance to impact the school itself. Eikenberry wants each senior to undertake a project on how they would improve the school and make a presentation before the board of directors on why their school is better than the one they graduated from. “We want to require students to be part of a South Carolina business or create their own South Carolina business before they graduate,” he notes. Now in the fundraising stages, with 500 parents already signing up their kids to attend, NEXT High School is on track to open its doors in the Fall of 2015 and to start making waves in the local economy and educational landscape. “NEXT High school is fundamentally designed in its DNA to be flexible and changeable,” says Eikenberry, “The school in 2015 should not look the same as the school in 2022.”




worked in the commercial real estate business in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. I did not get rich. I didn’t even make decent money, considering how hard I worked. It is a difficult business and I was very young.You see, during that time, the economy was down for commercial real estate. Tax law changes, financing difficulties, other investment options made selling real estate, especially in South Carolina, tough. I mean, South Carolina is not exactly filled with wealthy people who are investing in commercial property anyway, and the national players were staying in the bigger markets. In addition, the company I worked for was very political. Since I chose not to play politics, I did not get the best leads. The chairman of the company had his favorites. Clearly, I was not one of them. I told that story in early 2001 to a business guy who quickly became my mentor. He asked me a simple but direct question: “What would you say if I told you that all of those were excuses?” I think that question is still echoing in my brain, almost 12 years later. “What? No, no, you just don’t understand,” I said. “My business is different!” He gave me the international hand signal for “stop,” and then asked: “Where else are you making excuses in your life and accepting mediocrity?” That one hurt.Truth was, I was accepting mediocrity everywhere I looked. I had a string of mistakes,


About the author...

All you do is help them figure out what’s real. It’s not just a business philosophy, it’s a life mantra for Walker McKay. Innately curious, disarmingly honest, and—let’s just say it—liable to say anything at any time to any one—he’s a trusted coach and mentor to entrepreneurs and business owners across the state. Walker is a proud graduate of Washington and Lee University. Prior to serving as president of Sandler Training, he worked in commercial real estate, a career choice for which he says he was “wildly unprepared.” That led to his interest in helping other high achievers learn the skills they need to effectively navigate a business world in which everything can become a negotiation.


mishaps, and under achievements and in every instance, it was not my fault. I now am hyperaware of excuses and often hear them from business owners and professionals as they explain why their business is not running like they had hoped. It’s the economy. My competitors give everything away. The bank won’t lend us or our customers money. The politicians are against us. Our employees don’t care. And my favorite: We have always done it that way and that’s what our customers demand. It’s a dangerous place to be when you’ve made the same excuses for so long you come to accept them as truths.Truths like these poison us and keep us in that dreaded suburb of Mediocre-ville. Just consider the impact of those excuses on individual businesses and combined impact on our economy—not to mention the toll they take on individual lives. My challenge to you is to listen for excuses from yourself and others. Make a personal commitment not to give them or take them. Instead, replace excuses with the words “We haven’t figured out how to______________ yet.” We haven’t figured out how to make better margins in this economy. We haven’t figured out how to profitably compete with competitors who seem to give everything away.We haven’t figured out how to get our customers to do it a different way. Then get on with the business of solving whatever challenges you face. Because I promise you, while you sit around making the same old excuses, someone else in your line of business already has figured it out. And the fix is working magnificently.

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an elegant space for hire

Definitely not Business as usual You know us for our spectacular weddings and elegant cocktail parties, but did you know we have hosted outrageous events for BMW, GE and others? Let Zen host your next business meeting, seminar or client function. Take full advantage of our modern facility with state of the art services. Be creative. Isn’t it time you thought outside the box?

924 S. Main St. Greenville • 864-235-5770

When it comes to memories, there are different types of remembering. First, semantic, which is a process of remembering by knowing; think of your multiplication tables or U.S. geography and you’ll understand.Another kind of memory—episodic—is brought about by a trigger, associating a feeling with a certain thing, or person, or place. When it comes to this type of memory, most people are content with a few trinkets to remember important events. Bill Masters is not “most people.” In fact, to walk into his workshop is to walk into the recesses of his memory—one that contains memories of every stage of his life—of ideas and people and experiences over his lifetime. It is to experience, along with the many stories you are about to hear, a life built off of poverty, grown through work, and capitalized on through love.


When you first walk in to his workshop, it’s easy to consider the space cluttered. There are DVDs, boats, bikes, and tools—there is, quite literally, not one space that doesn’t serve as a display for something else. Nothing quite goes together—it is the space of a man who has many different projects but nothing in true focus. That is, until you begin to notice that there is not a cobweb or any dust in sight. The place is—as workshops or garages go— immaculate. And then, you realize: he uses these things. Many of these things. Often. He admits this is his go-to place—the place he spends his time, reads his emails and answers the phone that rings constantly. It is a place he can think…can work…can play…can test and experiment. As I sit, talking with the man in this space that represents him so well, he admits what’s already on my mind. “I’m a recovering entrepreneur,” he says. “I can’t quit being one… but I’m creative.” For Masters, entrepreneurship began early. As a child growing up, he lived in poverty, his grandfather’s family coming out of the mountains and his grandmother’s from a sharecropper family. His father—in the Air Force—was hardworking, from mill village stock, but also very resourceful. His grandparents poured everything they had into him, teaching him everything from how to crochet to working a Ham radio, even at the young age of three. His father taught him electrical work on the side. By six, he was pushing a lawnmower to earn money; by 10 he was fixing radios and TVs. By 12, he had a Ham Radio Operator’s License.

“That’s what helped me jump out of poverty,” Masters says of his family’s constant nurturing and education. “I didn’t know I couldn’t [do it].” At the age of 16, however, his father died, and at the age of 19, he married—Judy, who also came from a poor background. He used experience he got from Easley High’s vocational school to launch his career—first as a maintenance mechanic at a local factory where his dad held the same job, and then finally doing junior engineering work for a local company over summer breaks. It was during this time that he found what would become a large part of his life’s work—kayaking.

Across the workshop there are kayaks—models and finished versions and framed blueprints and 3D designs. Glossy colors and papers and new developments appear sporadically through the space. Of course, in Master’s life, they fit perfectly. It was around the time of his first marriage to Judy, and the subsequent birth of his sons—Nathan and Adam—that Masters first connected with the long form. After high school, Masters had gotten a job working as a maintenance mechanic, and then he and Judy decided he would go back to school, working toward a degree in electrical engineering at Clemson University. While in school, he took on a junior engineer’s position with a local company that developed textiles that were used in kayaks. He started in the sport, and eventually traded a co-worker—car work by Masters in exchange for a kayak that had broken in two. Even while he studied, Masters took on odd jobs to keep bills paid—repairing old cars and selling them, or serving as a guide up the Chattooga River for other kayakers. The paddle for that first kayak still hangs on the wall in his workshop. It was during this time that he began making kayaks as a career move, under the name Fiberglass Technology. It started off simple—as true bootstrap companies often do—and Masters would flip money into different projects to steadily grow the business. “I’d take the $50 and make a kayak, turn around and sell the kayak, use part of that to live on and then buy materials to make two kayaks,” he remembers. He graduated, but soon also found out that a baby—his first son, Nathan—was on the way. He did what many men do; he quit to find “steady work”, in his case as a design engineer. For one year. In his own words, Masters says of that job, “it was the worst job I ever had,” although he’s remiss to be able to tell you exactly why. In 1976, he took Fiberglass Technology and renamed the company Perception Kayaks—the word “perception” meaning “awareness of the environment through physical sensation.” Not long after, another Upstate entrepreneur, Bill Rutledge— who ran a small shop in Liberty and whom Masters frequently ran into at the post office—gave him advice on how to raise money. Over time, Masters perfected his “ask” enough and began fundraising for what would become Perception Kayaks. “I’d literally just walk in somewhere and go, ‘Hi, my name is Bill. Would you look at my business plan?’” he remembers. “It was then that I learned about ego dollars. People will give you time if you pay them in ego dollars when you ask,‘Will you look at my business plan and give me your advice?’ Especially if you work hard. You can’t just slough off…but I was really hard working, and I listened intently and took their advice and was very appreciative.” It may not have helped—or maybe it did—that the kayak industry was extraordinarily small in the mid-‘70s. On some unexplored rivers, Masters would walk a trail next to the river, tie cans into trees at a certain point, and then hike back up to the launch site so he would know when to take the boats out of the river.

“If you went down the road and you saw somebody with a kayak on their car, it was a big deal,” Masters says of those early days. “You could look in your rearview mirror and be guaranteed that the next thing you would see would be brake lights….because you always stopped and talked to them.” But although the community was small, it was robust and growing. It was an environment built for disruption. But, as with any startup, there were setbacks.

“The first kayak I ever made must have had 10,000 holes in it,” he says of the time he borrowed a friend’s garage to start the project. I borrowed a mold from somebody and I had read about how Fiberglass was. And so we made our first kayak, except it had pinholes all in it, and leaked like a sieve. For Masters himself, however, he did what any hardcore paddler would do with a fiberglass boat—he broke about three of them a year. So, he did what any avid paddler would do. “I taught myself as an engineer to make much better boats, and then went on to design machines that revolutionized the industry.” So, he kept making more boats; kept designing. As models transformed, you can even see the lines of his favorite car—a Jaguar, no less—in the top of his molded boats. “I did the first Kevlar boat ever made in the world,” he says. “The first time Kevlar was ever woven into cloth was right here in South Carolina, down at Clark Schwebel in Anderson.” Over time, Masters built the company, starting with a board of advisors who also invested in the company. “When I went into business I didn’t know anybody that had $1,000 to their name,” he says. “So when I met this other group of people, it was a complete cultural shock.” Today, over many hardships and challenges—his first wife, Judy, passed in 1980, and a second marriage led to divorce and loss of part of his sales of another company—Perception Kayaks has been grown and been sold. It was always his dream, Masters will tell you, to start the company and sell it for 25 percent more than anyone expected, but the sale of the company hasn’t stopped Masters from dreaming up new ideas for kayaks (one project has been in secret for years while he works out the kinks). He keeps the very first sign that hung over his very first office, now worn and tattered by age and weather.You may walk away thinking that kayaking is his life’s love. Until, that is, you talk about Anne.

The Jaguar XK150s There’s a car that sits on the far end of the garage—a 1960 Jaguar XK150S, that Masters jokingly refers to as “the date car.” He and Anne, his wife—who is a force to be reckoned with in her own right as a high-risk OB/GYN, with an MBA out of the University of London, and as an expert in perinatal care—still take every Wednesday as date day, going to farmer’s markets or mountain trips. It doesn’t matter exactly where they go—only that they go together. Even as we talk, she appears in the corner, smiling, greeting everyone and checking in. She easily brings smiles to everyone in the room, but not near as much as to Masters himself, who glows when she walks in. Later, he’ll tell me, “Annie’s my soul mate, she’s the love of my life…hands down.”

A Cabinet of Ideas A cabinet sits, filled to the brim with what resembles—to the naked eye—little more than shards of plastic and bobs of metal. But pull it open, and you’ll see a world of ideas that have crossed generations, and now live in the little cabinet in the back.There’s an ice cream maker motor cap emblazoned with the logo “Ice Cream Boy,” remnants of a time when Masters toyed with ice cream makers because he realized that “children didn’t know where ice cream came from anymore.” There are prototypes in metal and fiberglass and plastic and 3D molds of canoes and motors and anything else you could imagine. There are photos…papers…a few more gadgets here and there…all with a story. It would seem that there’s no common thread; no way that all these ideas can come from the same mind—even if spanning over decades. But Masters is quick to point out that they do. “I make things that bring people joy and don’t harm anyone,” he states simply.


Carolina proud On a far wall, there is a cutout of the state of South Carolina, made completely out of S.C. license plates. There are photos of check signings strewn in boxes of photos; there are stickers from local organizations, golf tournaments, and businesses stuck to the garage door. This is the space of a proud South Carolinian. “I was born in Pickens and grew up in Easley,” Masters reminds me. “I used to be so proud of South Carolina that I wouldn’t buy gas in other states if I could make it back here…just so I could pay the tax here.” While he’s not quite that passionate anymore, he admits, he is very proud of the state—and of its entrepreneurs. He’s been there. He holds more than 30 patents in boat design, plastic manufacturing, computers, 3D printing and heat transfer, among others— a feat that he admits, with the new federal laws on patents, holds less and less appeal to him. “Patents are just ideas you have formalized and have paid the government for the right to defend them,” he says. But now, with first-to-file in place, the logs and logs of work he’s kept for years to prove a first-to-invent status are, going forward, void. Add to that the requirement that inventors pay maintenance fees every few years, and patents become a nightmare for large-scale inventors to keep up with. “It’s just not conducive to independent inventors unless you’re going to build that patent into a business…fast,” he notes. But still, he talks more about Kevlar’s first manufacturing and weaving into textiles coming through South Carolina, and about a project very close to him—3D printing, which is one of the most recent big-ticket topics in innovation, started in South Carolina between a small handful of companies, and to which Bill Masters holds the first related patents. “There’s six ways now to do 3D printing. I hold landmark [patents] in three of them,” he says, noting that his first fundraising efforts for the project came about through the South Carolinabased Palmetto Seed Capital—one of the state’s first efforts in entrepreneurial funding—in the early ‘90s. There, he received $200,000, which he eventually grew to $15 million to fund the technology. Unfortunately, the manger, according to Masters, had little bearings on how to be a successful entrepreneur, and when the patent lapsed in 2000, the world of 3D printing


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box

took off. But, he notes, it’s vitally important to realize South Carolina’s part in industries like that—as a founder of technologies that are crucially important to the business world, and to innovation. Today, even as he focuses on projects like one that focuses on surgical metal weight dispersement (he broke his leg a few years back, triggering a desire to find “a better solution” for braces and screws), and gun safety (of which Masters deems the current projects too big to discuss…just yet), he is constantly fighting for the entrepreneur. Back a few years, you could read publicly about discussions on a statewide level between Masters and economic development organizations. Today, while on a smaller scale, he is still passionate about making sure that political and financial earmarks for entrepreneurs make it to the entrepreneur, and not into larger coffers where true entrepreneurs have no access to it. He mentors as a Liberty Fellow, devotes time to Clemson and invests time with several local entrepreneurs, as time allows—all of which he is proud of—but none so much as his forums, which he has built and billed as “Focus Forums,” designed to put business leaders in close proximity—and relation—with their peers; a process he developed to assist peer learning and development. Historically, forums are no stranger to Master, who served at high levels within the Young Presidents Organization and the World Presidents Organization. He has started forum groups with major organizations down to a more simplified version of locally-based business leaders. But going forward, he notes, these forums will take a front row in what he wants to accomplish, as he shows me a copy of his book “The Process of Focus Forum,” one of three books designed to walk people through the development of their own forum group. And so, the “recovering entrepreneur”—who, were it said truthfully, likely doesn’t want to recover at all—has made a great place for himself among the business community, as idea man, entrepreneur, successful businessman, teacher, mentor, inventor, and in many cases, friend. He is a champion to the entrepreneur, and a cheerleader for those who want to grow bigger and better than they ever have been, but one thing he will note, almost immediately: his story is unique to himself, and it is important that each person discovers for themselves what kind of entrepreneur they are—if they are one—and capitalize upon their strengths and skill sets. “There’s a lot of different kinds of entrepreneurs, just like there are a lot of different kind of humans,” he says. “What kind of entrepreneur are you?”

Bill Masters on Bees Early in his career, Masters bought a beehive. Now bees are interesting creatures, and if you are tense or agitated, they will shadow that emotion and become the same, eventually attacking you. As part of his daily regimen, Masters would, upon coming home from work, immediately go sit in front of his hive—unprotected. “It forced my transition from game face [in business] to family,” he says.Then, after that brief but effective recalibration in his life, he’d go in and see his family. “Business is hard, but family is the most important,” he notes of the experience. “This was my way to balance the transition from business to home.”



Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye Studios

By Josh Overstreet

For a parent of a special needs child, there comes multiple challenges that need to be met, and often the path is not easy. Now imagine that scenario, with the added challenge of not being able to understand doctors or caregivers at all. For the growing population of Hispanics in the country and the Upstate, this language barrier can make the simplest day-to-day activities a challenge, much less trying to make sure a special needs child is fully taken care of. “Having a child with special needs and not being able to understand what the doctor is telling you to do or not do with your child is very challenging for the families,” says Johanna Perez, who works as a bilingual support specialist for the Center for Developmental Services, a collaboration of services that serves more than 6,000 children with special needs each year. Originally born in Greenville, Perez and her family moved back to Colombia when she was four—the same country from which they originally had moved in the 1980s.

When she graduated high school, she decided to move back to Greenville. Only six months later she relocated to Atlanta to study English at Mercer University. Upon completing her studies, she returned back to Greenville, got married and had three children, the last of which—Sofia—was a special needs child. Sofia was born with Trisomy 9 mosiac. Initially, Perez was told that she wouldn’t live past her first few hours or days. Instead, she spent two weeks in the NICU before going home, which would change Perez’s life forever. It was at this point that Perez found the CDS through a medical follow-up at the center. Through the CDS, Family Connection, and the Wonder Center, Sofia was able to develop and learn to walk and talk by her second year, milestones she was never expected to reach. Sadly, on May 12th, 2009, Sofia passed away, yet her impact is still felt by everyone around her. But it was not the end of Perez’s connection with the CDS. She originally began working with Family Connection of S.C.,

counseling families who were going through what she had been through with Sofia. Eventually, she moved to a position at CDS as their bilingual support specialist. “I started out basically as the interpreter for the different organizations,” says Perez. Today, she works between CDS, its partners and its parents making sure that the barriers that come between Hispanic families and working with the medical system do not prevent the children from receiving the best care possible. To complicate matters, there can also be cultural barriers that keep parents from seeking help; families have come from rural backgrounds and are not used to having any sort of medical care and often can distrust doctors or anyone who tells them what they need to do with their children. It’s important work, Perez notes. “Doing a lot of that coaching with parents is very important in order to get children to reach their full potential,” she says. Through the CDS, Perez organizes community outreach events, educational workshops and coordinating other services to make sure

that families are receiving exactly what they need, even helping families with the processes of applying for social services like Medicaid and food stamps. She is also actively on the board with Hispanic Alliance, a non-profit whose goal is to improve communication between society and the growing Hispanic Community. There, she also sets up workshops and coaches families on subjects such as better parenting and how to navigate various social systems, such as the medical network, and helping the community to help itself. “We want to make sure the barriers the Hispanic community has, we can remove or minimize,” says Perez. “I’m thinking we can do more for the Hispanic community through CDS and the Hispanic Alliance.” Until that time, Perez will continue to celebrate the life of Sofia—by helping others who often times cannot help themselves because of language barriers. “We were only able to enjoy her life for two years, but we keep celebrating her life because it brought so many good things to our life,” says Perez.

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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When Johanna Perez’s daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder, their family was turned upside down. But out of that experience was born a champion for Hispanic families facing the same challenges with their children.



dvancements in technology are notorious for optimizing or even completely changing the way we do things. Think about it: mobile banking has revolutionized the process we go through to deposit, withdraw and transfer money. Phone calls to remote family members have been replaced by video conferencing anywhere, anytime. It wasn’t so long ago that cell phone pictures were a low-quality novelty, yet now, images from the today’s devices compete with actual cameras. Physical video game consoles are still a big seller, but many younger kids’ first experience with digital gaming is on a touch-based handheld phone or mp3 player. Faster processors and smarter software handle more information more quickly than ever before, allowing us to use relatively cheap products and services to accomplish what only the most expensive offerings could do a few years ago. The latest evolution in this conquest is happening in the services industry. We are familiar with concepts like online ordering at restaurants because of established conventions like making reservations, but many companies are taking that idea a step further. Local entrepreneur Matthew Smith serves as Chief Creative Officer for Relay Foods, an online grocer that allows customers to fill their virtual cart via the web or their mobile phone, and then receive those items through a premium delivery service.


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.


Busy professionals are reaping the benefits as well. A new service called Fancy Hands makes it affordable for anyone to have an assistant. Whether it’s “scheduling appointments, holding on the phone, making reservations, [or] researching answers to your questions,” they’ve assembled a team of hundreds of remote workers that can take the extra administrative burden off of your back. You can access help from any channel, including phone calls, smartphone apps and “plain old” email. Their service even allows you to sync your calendar so that assistants can see upcoming tasks and take care of them without you having to ask. The most expensive plan is only $65 per month. Some apps serve a two-sided market, making life easier for consumers and increasing business for service providers. Greenville startup Upkeep Charlie gives consumers access to licensed handymen on demand. From gutter cleaning to pool maintenance and leaky faucets, customers purchase two or four hour segments of time up front and forgo the tricky process of deciphering quotes. Handymen get a huge amount of exposure, know the basics of the job and what tools they’ll need ahead of time, and can develop a consistent flow of work. Best of all, customers pay directly through the application, so there’s no paper invoice or check to deposit. Many people foresee a long, growing relationship between services and technology. “It’s my belief that digital products with real life service components will out live their digital-only counterparts,” says Smith. Technology will continue to change the way we do things, but digital products that create real service jobs has huge potential for our economy.

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he unincorporated community of Taylors runs along Highway 29, eight miles east of Greenville and four miles west of Greer. Unless you live in one of its subdivisions it’s most likely a place you pass through to get from point A to point B. But it wasn’t always that way. Taylors was once a destination, home to the nationally-known Chick Springs resort. Thousands flocked there each summer in the early 1900s, playing croquet, riding horses and soaking in the mineral-rich springs. In the mid-1900s it was the Taylors bleachery that created buzz, processing 1,250,000 yards of cloth a week and providing jobs for more than a thousand. But the mill closed and the resort is gone, and so, say many in the community, is Taylors’ sense of identity. There’s no mayor, no elected officials and no city center. But they do have Roger Whitehead. He and other residents are on a mission to revitalize the community by spearheading plans to add trails, encourage downtown development and beautify an aging stretch of Wade Hampton Boulevard. In less than a year they’ve managed to get the attention of county planners and even some deep-pocketed investors. “There are some pretty big movers and shakers who are looking at investing more money into this area,” says Scott Park, Principal Planner with Greenville County. “That’s a huge potential and promise for what’s going to happen in the future.”

Until last year, the only kind of development 34-year-old Whitehead had any interest in was the kind that involved software. But somehow the Taylors native has become a leader in the push to develop and improve the community in which he grew up. “I have no experience with this at all,” admits Whitehead. “I’m just a resident that took an interest. I want to see my community grow and develop in a positive way.” After spending nearly a decade away from his hometown, Whitehead returned in 2008 to raise a family and spend more time in the mountains. But theTaylors he returned to was not theTaylors he remembered from his childhood. “This part of Wade Hampton looks bad,” he says of the stretch of Highway 29 between Greenville and Greer. “It’s not what it used to be.” As for downtown Taylors, Whitehead remembers a post office, barbershop and other stores. Although it hasn’t been a thriving downtown in Whitehead’s lifetime, “I do remember Main Street having more on it,” he says. Last year, Whitehead joined a core group of concerned citizens who wanted to see Taylors improve. County planners have taken notice and in a matter of months have managed to put some pretty lofty goals on paper that they hope will transform Taylors from a non-descript pass-through to a vibrant destination.

“The plans will capitalize on the community’s unique character and be scale-appropriate to support many generations to come,” explains Park.“Many of the community planning initiatives are focused on making better places that have already started revitalizing. It’s about increasing residents’ quality of life while also preparing the area residents’ to think about how they want their areas to redevelop.”

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Since Taylors doesn’t have a central meeting place, a handful of residents decided to create a virtual one. They launched to provide a place to share ideas and find common goals. A group of interested citizens began meeting monthly in the old Taylors post office to hash out their vision for Taylors. But first they had to answer an important, foundational question: where is Taylors? Is it a zip code? A radius around Main Street? Is it the same as the Taylors Fire and Sewer district? “[At first] there was not a consensus on where Taylors was,” says Alex Reynolds, a media producer at Taylors First Baptist Church, who is highly involved in the Taylors project. So, everyone that attended the group’s early meetings received a map and was asked to draw the boundaries of Taylors. The Taylors zip code stretches to Northern Greenville County and includes more than 30,000 people—an area that seemed too large. Eventually the group decided to focus their efforts on the area around Wade Hampton and Main Street, generally following the lines of the Taylors Fire and Sewer District. In addition to answering that important question, the group of citizens shared ideas and gathered information. They invited county planners to speak at their meetings including Principal Planner Scott Park who’s been with Greenville County for three years. “The potential is huge for the future,” says Park of the revitalization efforts. “It’s almost like a blank canvas.” Between 60 and 70 residents attended each community meeting and more than 220 gave feedback online. In the end, the group identified three main areas they wanted to see change: developing Main Street, adding a trail system and improving Wade Hampton Boulevard. But they’re not starting completely from scratch. A local man has been working on creating a draw to Taylors for seven years. Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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In 2006,Taylors native Kenneth Walker purchased the sprawling property once home to the Taylors Southern Bleachery, where he envisioned filling the 814,000-square-foot former mill with entrepreneurs and artists. Walker runs the facility with his wife and two other full time employees, and knows every inch of the building, noting that he could find his way around blindfolded. So far about half the space is leased by more than 50 tenants, and new businesses arrive almost weekly. The first to set up shop was sculptor Doug Young, the artist behind the Shoeless Joe Jackson statue in Greenville’s West End; the most recent arrival is a coffee roaster. Office spaces range in size from 144 square feet to a 55,000-square-foot plastic recycling operation. The building is currently home to four photographers, three machine shops and the William Felton School of Crafts. In the future he’d like to transform the old boiler room into a venue for weddings and parties. “I had a young lady call that has a business roasting cocoa beans and making chocolate. I hope that one works out,” chuckles Walker. “It’s just an interesting day here every day.”


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box

While rents are low, operating expenses are high with power bills topping $5,000 a month. In addition, Walker hopes to put a new roof on the building soon—a project he says will cost more than $3 million. But, since the mill is listed on both the state and national register of historic places he says he may qualify for grant money. “I can just see the potential here,” says Walker. “It’s good; on the other hand, you have to be patient because it takes a lot of money to do what I’d like to do which we don’t have a lot of.” Many agree that the mill will serve as an anchor for attracting people to downtown Taylors. Walker, an electrical contractor by trade, took on an ambitious project when he bought the building, but he believes it will serve as a catalyst for the rebirth of Taylors. “I just think it’s time for Taylors to blossom and be a destination place that people love to come to and spend some time,” he says. “[In 10 years] there will be so many changes and it will be prettier. Things are going to be wonderful.”

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Although Reynolds lives in Taylors and drives into downtown almost daily for his job at the church, until last year he really didn’t know much about the nearby mill—or anything about the nearby residents and businesses, for that matter. He and other leaders at Taylors First Baptist Church, the thriving 150-yearold congregation in the center of a desolate Taylors Main Street, started to realize that their members were increasingly not residents of Taylors. In fact, many of the church’s 2,000 Sunday attendees were driving in from other parts of the Upstate. “What we began asking ourselves is, how can we get to know our neighbors?” say Reynolds. They recognized that without a chamber of commerce or city hall, there was little being done to bring the community members together. “There was not a whole lot of networking going on in Taylors,” recalls Reynolds. “There was no ‘big champion,’ if you will, that we could find.” While it’s not the church’s goal to lead the development plan, they would like to have a seat at the table, Reynolds says. “The church can’t be the only driver for this thing to work,” he says. “For community transformation to set in and take place the community has to be involved. It can’t be one segment of the population.” With the initial the goal of creating a community garden as their purpose, the church began to invite members and neighbors to meetings. The church aligned with non-profit The Generous Garden Project to create plans to grow produce for area food pantries on a patch of land near the mill. “There were a lot of people that didn’t know the mill was there,” Reynolds says. “We had our second meeting at the place where they were going to do the garden. Everybody stayed and talked forever. We were all learning about each other.” Although the garden project withered due to rocky, unfertile soil, Reynolds says it sprouted several relationships and served as a catalyst for creating a revitalization plan.

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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Residents have shared lots of ideas and visions for the future of downtown Taylors, but Park says it all comes down to creating a vibrant community destination. “A lot of people are talking about something that’s walkable—something with retail, landscaping, and sidewalks,” says Park of the plan for downtown Taylors. But “walkable” seems a long way off; right now there is only one sidewalk that runs about one-fourth of the way down Main Street, and very few storefronts are occupied. The second part of the Taylors plan—to add trails that connect historical sites like the old Taylors mill, Chick Springs and Corey Burns Park—would also play into the downtown draw. By creating an access point to a walking trail along the Enoree River from Main Street, downtown Taylors could eventually become a destination for hikers. “It would be a nice backbone for recreation and connectivity purposes,” says Park. To begin with, a Greenway Trail running along the Enoree River is in the works and Greenville County Recreation recently scouted properties for the portion of the trail that would run through Taylors.


Q1 2014 // Business Black Box

Armed with information from the community and Taylors residents, Greenville county planners asked Clemson to do renderings and proposals on how to deal with each of these three goals; the plans were just completed and will now be presented to advisory groups that will provide input and suggestions. Once a comprehensive plan is in place, tasks will be created under each objective along with a plan on how to get them done. “By the end of 2014, we hope to have started the approval process with the Planning Commission,” says Park. “What a lot of people are waiting for is this community plan. It will put the pieces together and allow some transformation to set in and take place.” But residents certainly aren’t waiting to initiate change. Plans are in the works to start a farmer’s market in Taylors this spring and a longtime goal to turn the former Chick Springs resort property into a park is still in development. While it may be a couple of years before people can go hiking on Taylors’ trails or the businesses on this stretch of Wade Hampton start to look fresh again, Reynolds—like many others—says he’s already thrilled with the progress he sees. “Relationships are exponential. As more people get involved, more things are happening, more people catch the vision,” he says. “I think you can see some really positive and exciting growth.”

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“We’ve contacted enough owners to build a trail from Wade Hampton to Corey Burns Park,” explains Reynolds. “Most of these people have given permission to be scouted, but there are no leases yet.” In what is perhaps the most difficult piece of the puzzle, says Whitehead, will be making Wade Hampton Boulevard more attractive and fresh. When Whitehead was a teen, he says, Wade Hampton Boulevard seemed to have it all. He saw movies at the long-demolished Bijou Cinemas, played a round of puttputt at the mini golf course that’s long since closed and went roller skating at the aging Roller Sports. “To me, that was the area to go to for entertainment and such,” he remembers. “I’d like to bring some of the amenities back to the area so kids have places to go.” Other community members would like to see the curb appeal of businesses that do line the Taylors stretch of Wade Hampton improved. “There are a lot of businesses that need help with facades,” says Park. “That’s been another big concern of residents in the area.”

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DAVID SUDDUTH Executive Director, Community & Government Affairs

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Q1 2014 // Business BlackStudios Box Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye

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Ideal Feed & Seed on Laurens Road. I quickly learned the importance of customer service and relationships. I also learned that being a forklift operator was not in my future.

[2] What are some of the skills you developed

early, that you’ve found to be beneficial or essential to your practices now? Work hard, be humble and find your passion. But the most important skill I learned from my father was authenticity. Be yourself—and don’t waste time trying to be someone else.

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

Organization, time management and the ability to prioritize are critical. But family always comes first. No one at the end of their life ever wished they had spent more time at the office.

[4] What are some strategies you use to keep yourself in check?

I try to never take myself too seriously. My wife, children and friends help ensure that doesn’t happen. In fact, laughing at yourself can be therapeutic. Also, things are never as bad as they seem initially…or as good. I try to find my equilibrium and avoid the peaks and valleys.

[5] What vision do you promote for your

employees, and how do you get your team to buy into or tap into that vision? Never ask your team to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. In other words, lead by example. Having a vision is important, but the true test of leadership is getting others to see it. Don’t just share your vision with enthusiasm; share it with passion.The plan to achieve that vision should be developed as a team to gain buy-in. And don’t forget accountability.The team must own and implement the plan properly.

[6] What’s your most difficult responsibility, and how do you deal with it?

As a healthcare professional, determining the financial and operational impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a very real challenge. This places even more emphasis on strategic planning, communication and building relationships with elected officials in Columbia and Washington, D.C. Those healthcare providers that can deliver improved quality of care, drive innovation and hold the line on cost will not just survive, but thrive.

[7] What was your biggest failure as a professional and how did you recover?

I basically flunked out of my first year of college. I simply wasn’t ready for life after high school and had no clear career path. I joined the U.S. Navy at 19 years old and spent four years on active duty. That decision changed my life and my perspective on the world. After discharge, I spent one year at Greenville Technical College followed by three years at Clemson University. I graduated in 1990 with a B.S. degree in Financial Management (Magna Cum Laude). Maturity and perseverance paid off.

[8] What is one of your favorite hobbies, and what is it that you find most fulfilling in it?

I love fishing and riding my Harley Davidson motorcycle. Both give me the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Upstate while relaxing a bit.

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

I recently accepted a position with Greenville Health System in Community and Government Affairs. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with an outstanding organization with great leadership and a commitment to excellence, teamwork and innovation. As for City Council, I just began my third term in office. I’m honored to serve in such a special community and will continue to do so as long as I can make a difference and the voters will have me.

[10] You’re very active in the community

and in economic development organizations. Which one is your favorite position or organization, and why? Well, that’s like trying to decide which of your children you love the most. I spend much of my community time as a Commissioner with Greenville Water, a board member with the University Center of Greenville and an Executive Committee member with Upstate Alliance. All have great leadership, a rich history of success and have made significant contributions to economic development in the Upstate. I’m very proud to be associated with all of them.

[11] As Mayor Pro Tem, what is your vision for the City of Greenville?

To be the safest, cleanest, most prosperous City in America.To do so requires bold leadership, a passion for excellence, attention to detail and an ability to harness the energy and enthusiasm of our citizens. Great cities strive to achieve a healthy balance between economic vitality and quality of life. The secret to Greenville’s rebirth and success lies in its people—both those who were born here and those who got here as fast as they could.

Q4 2013 // Business Black Box


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[1] What was your first job?




he General Assembly is back in Columbia and the U.S. Congress has reconvened in Washington. Here,the issues of tax reform,ethics reform and the creation of a new Department ofAdministration will get the most attention, since being a part of “reform” makes for great campaign copy for gubernatorial candidates. Nationally, Obamacare, Immigration and the growing debt are front and center. Regrettably, in the middle of it all we have a full-fledged “civil war” within the ranks of the GOP manifesting itself daily, in ways that are truly detrimental—locally and nationally. Now, I said the GOP. I did not say the Libertarian Party, the Palmetto True Conservative Party, the Don’t Tread on Me Patriot Party or one of the iterations of the Tea Party. I am talking about the Republican Party: the party of President Reagan and Gov. Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. two very revered GOP officials. Now, if you would like to see the Republican Party win elections, possibly regain the Senate, keep the House and succeed in the next presidential election, consider what I am about to offer. If you are part of the Tea Party movement and a fan of its “leadership” in some form or fashion, consider it as well. Recognize this simple truth: you cannot govern, if you do not win. I like winning. A few years ago, a friend of mine handed me some research, comparing the current political situation to the environment of the 1830s when Andrew Jackson rose to the presidency. He made the case that all things political, go in cycles, and that the emergence of the Tea Party was an inevitable occurrence. So here we are. Now, ask yourself honestly, what has been the impact of this well-intended but poorly executed effort? Has it led to real policy change? Or has it increased the level of vitriol, distrust and cynicism towards


About the author...

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 Reelect (campaign manager) and in strategic and communications roles with Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004. He also serves as a political analyst for WYFF (NBC).


the “process”? It has actually created a cottage industry of competing groups whose primary focus is to fundraise in order to pay larges salaries and run attack ads against incumbents whose records are clearly, very conservative (Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Action, etc.) Sure, proponents will say that many who were silent are now engaged, and that the debate over important issues has been raised; that without this “movement,” the Administration would go unchecked, and that only these “patriots” know how to fix the problems facing our country. To that, I would say: Hooey! Yes, the debate has been raised on important matters but mere debate is not enough.Yes, more people are engaged and that is a positive. But are they engaged in a way that has any reasonable hope of success? Fact: the real impact of the Tea Party movement has been to solidify support for Obama on the other side, to cost the GOP the U.S. Senate seats that then enabled the passage of Obamacare, the picking of completely unwinnable fights that have divided the party within, and unfortunately provided a distraction the administration has used to deflect criticism of its many mistakes. Not to mention the well-documented damage to the GOP brand (think threatened government shutdown) at a time when the party could and should be expanding. Seriously, some of the Tea Party leadership scares the hell out of conservative leaning independents, minority voters and young people who see the errors of the White House. Being the angry, agitated and ornery party won’t cut it. It’s not the perception needed for the GOP to win elections. Dammit people, start being for something, and not against everything. Yes, the GOP has a lot of work to do. It needs to improve in many ways.We need to tackle tough issues like immigration, health-care, and the debt.We need to be less about big business and more about the needs of Middle America where great ideas become great companies that employ great people. We need to be the party of opportunity not obligation, the party of entrepreneurship, free enterprise, and yes, reasonable taxes to pay for roads, schools and the like. But, enough is enough: in Greenville, in South Carolina and in Washington. If you aren’t willing to help the GOP do this­—if you are determined to destroy the party to have it meet your own version of what being a “conservative” means—then forgive me if I don’t throw you a rope as while you drown in your beloved tea cup. The roots of the “tea party” movement are based on legitimate frustration.A lot of the positions taken are sound and need addressing. But these issues require serious leaders, and solutions that actually have a chance of passing.We need a GOP—unified and focused. We need a GOP that can and will work in the party and across the aisle to solve big issues not succumb to a world of fiefdoms that offer no more than false hope, further cynicism and very little success. I welcome your comments at

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THE PITCH: I started SIMUMED in order to produce portable, high quality training equipment for both nurses in training and nurses in the field alike. The SIMUMED educational training kits are beneficial because they present a portable nursing lab without the requirement of being at the hospital, nursing department, or wherever healthcare training may be warranted. Each kit from SIMUMED contains highly detailed training apparatuses used for teaching, and possibly accrediting, skills and techniques ranging from IV insertion to catheterization. Along with these examples are numerous other basic and limited intermediate skills that are necessary for basic nursing assistance in all fields. SIMUMED portable lab kits come in a convenient carrying case containing a number of flexible simulation models that aid nurses in skills involving IV injections, respiration, reproductive genitalia, flesh wounds, and other common training required of professionals in the nursing field. Along with all of the other substantial benefits to these portable labs is the ability to customize your SIMUMED kits with organization and/or care provider titles. This personalization allows any organization to adopt these kits for their own use, creating an even more personalized experience. The portability and ease-of-use of the SIMUMED training kits allows prospective and current nurses to receive the training certification required at any given time or location. All of these factors and more contribute to making SIMUMED kits some of the most valuable and affordable in the healthcare industry today. Photo by Carter Tippins/FishEye Studios



THE FEEDBACK: As a medical professional, you established SIMUMED to respond to a set of problems you recognized in your work. It would be helpful to see specifically what problem(s) are being addressed. For example, in featuring a portable kit, you indicate a lack of portability in current offerings. Why is that the case? Large, stable, wellfunded medical device and training companies have the ability to address the issue and may not be doing it. Why? Helpful to investors is to see the current, significant gap between your offerings and available, deliverable devices or kits. Is the problem industry-wide with a pentup demand for portable training kits of high or higher quality? Perhaps. But, missing here, is validation of market needs. What data (research into markets you are targeting) are you using to verify the potential for a sustainable business beyond your personal experience and insight? You may have identified a need and new business opportunity based on industry upheaval or a dramatic increase in the requirement for more rapid training of professionals at a time when institutional capacity for training has been maxed out – if so, state the driving force SIMUMED is responding to with your products.

I suggest SIMUMED conduct a thorough study of how nurses are currently trained – especially since most nursing training programs already own training equipment for their own programs. You might also consider using this service as a continuing education model that could instead be used at the places where nurses work – for example, nursing homes, physician offices, clinics and small hospitals. Conduct skills competency workshops and check-offs, and survey potential customers and determine the need for this type of service. I also suggest you consider whether the service will provide instructors and curriculum later on.


Director, Continuing Medical Education & Technology, Greenville Healthcare System Administrative Director, Greenville Healthcare Simulation Center

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Without an indication of proprietary ownership; company owned, unique, technology, materials, supplies and so on that can be legally protected, there is an assumption that SIMUMED is assembling kits using off-the-shelf components, materials, guides etc. That can work just fine however, when the business begins to move successfully forward, how will you prevent others with perhaps deeper pockets, better market access, more cost effective kits etc from entering the business and limiting or even eliminating your opportunity to compete? Best luck, Tanya.

GREG HILLMAN Director SC Launch

Q1 2014 // Business Black Box




n 2013, South Carolina enacted the High Growth Small Business Access to Capital Act, which provides a S.C. state income tax credit for angel investors who invest in certain qualified startup businesses. The credit is a non-refundable credit, equal to 35 percent of a qualified investment made after December 31, 2012. As we head for tax season, this credit is worth reviewing—both for investors and those considering financing a new company in South Carolina. Which investors are eligible for the credit? An investor generally must be either (a) an individual who is a South Carolina resident or (b) a partnership, S corporation or limited liability company taxed as a partnership that is formed for investment purposes, has no business operations, has $5 million or less of capital under management and is not funded by institutional investors. In addition, the investor must be an “accredited investor” as defined under Rule 501 of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. What business investments can qualify for the credit? The investment must be a cash investment in stock, another type of equity security or subordinated debt of a qualified business. A qualified business is generally a company that: • Is headquartered in South Carolina; • Was organized no more than five years before the investment was made;


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.


• Employs no more than 25 people in South Carolina; • Has gross income of $2 million or less; • Is primarily engaged in manufacturing, processing, warehousing, wholesaling, software development, information technology services, research and development, or operating a “qualifying service-related facility” (as defined in the South Carolina tax code); and • Does not engage substantially in retail sales; real estate or construction; professional services; gambling; natural resource extraction; financial brokerage, investment activities or insurance; or entertainment, amusement, recreation or athletics or fitness activity for which an admission or fee is charged. “Substantially engaged” generally means that the company obtains more than 25 percent of its gross revenues from the activity or was organized to engage in the activity as one of its primary purposes. A qualified business also must register with, and be certified by, the Secretary of State as a qualified business and renew its registration every twelve months. Other key issues. • Half of the credit may be applied in the year of the investment. The other half may be applied in the following year and may be carried forward for up to 10 years. • Total credits for one year for all taxpayers cannot exceed $5 million. If taxpayers apply for a larger amount, the South Carolina Department of Revenue will allocate the available $5 million in credits pro rata among eligible taxpayers. • An individual cannot claim a credit in excess of $100,000 for any year, not including any carry forward credits. • The credit can be transferred at death or upon a divorce. In addition, the credit may be transferred once to any other taxpayer. • The credit is subject to recapture if the investor sells the investment at a gain. If the investor suffers a loss, the amount of the loss that may be recognized is generally reduced by the amount of the credit. The foregoing outlines key elements of the tax credit, but be sure to consult with a professional tax adviser for the full details if you are interested in taking advantage of it. For more on this topic visit




a historia y aporte de los hispanos en la política de los Estados Unidos es profunda e interesante. Tratar de discutir y exponer este tema en un solo artículo es imposible, y a la misma vez no podemos dejar pasar la oportunidad de ofrecer algunos puntos sobre el mismo. La participación de los hispanos en la política a la hora de votar se define de la siguiente manera según un análisis publicado en el 2008 por Rob Paral & Associates, el 30.2% o 66,076 personas son ciudadanos naturalizados (2010) y elegibles para votar. También indica que el 2.3% o 54,846 de todos los votantes registrados en Carolina del Sur son “nuevos americanos”, ciudadanos naturalizados o hijos de inmigrantes que crecieron durante la era de inmigración desde Latinoamérica y Asia que comenzó en 1965. Cabe destacar que en la elección del Presidente Obama, y en su reelección el voto hispano fue crucial y continua siendo el sector de más importancia. A pesar de los aportes y la historia, aún hoy en día los hispanos sienten que no tienen un líder o líderes los cuales sean la voz de los votantes hispanos. El estudio hecho por Mark Hugo López, director de estudios hispanos titulado “Three-Fourths of Hispanics Say Their Community Needs a Leader,” está disponible en el sitio de la Internet La lista de lideres políticos es interminable y aún así los hispanos sienten que no tienen esa repre-


About the author...

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


sentación nacional que es tan importante. Entre ellos podemos mencionar: Sonia Sotomayor, jueza del circulo federal; Marco Rubio, congresista; los hermanos Joaquín y Julián Castro, congresista y alcalde de San Antonio respectivamente. Dentro de los más antiguos: los congresistas Nydia Velázquez, José Serrano, Luis Gutiérrez, Bob Menéndez, Mel Martínez, primer senador cubano-americano; Antonio Villaraigosa, alcalde de Los Angeles; y Bill Richardson-Lopez, alcalde de Nuevo México. A nivel nacional de un total de más de 50 millones de Hispanos, unos 20 millones son votantes registrados, un número considerable y que debe traer la atención de ambos partidos políticos. Y este número continuará creciendo, no por factores externos, sino internos. Miremos algunos factores que son recopilados por el “National Council of La Raza”: -Los hispanos son, por primera vez, la minoría con más representación en el sistema universitario. [Constituimos el grupo minoritario más grande del país, siendo el 16.4% del total de la población nacional.] -Casi tres de cada cuatro latinos (74%) son ciudadanos estadounidenses. -A partir de 2009, el 62.7% de todos los latinos son nacidos en estados; esto significa que la población hispana en Estados Unidos está creciendo no por migración, sino por factores internos. -El número de empresas propiedad de hispanos creció 44% entre 2002 y 2007 (en comparación con 15% entre los no hispanos). -Los ingresos generados por estos negocios fue de 345,200 millones de dólares en 2007. Entonces nos preguntamos: cuando y como tendremos una representación adecuada que verdaderamente sea la voz de este sector demográfico? Qué más tendremos que hacer para demostrar que somos clave en la aportación económica y política de este país?

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Q1 2014 // Business Black Box


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new year has begun, and along with hen you work with people from other countries, you expect there to be differences it come resolutions. Lose weight. Eat in the way they look at things, the way they communicate, even in the way they healthier. Improve your golf game, think. After all, we may be from opposite sides of the world with completely different and so on. But when looking to improve life experiences, and we may speak a language that is completely foreign to the other. yourself or your company, perhaps So, we the are not focus really surprised when we encounter “cultural differences” based on national origin. should be directed externally. What about other cultural differences? Specifically, what about company culture and can this really G L “You OBA L hear of something never be asbad significant when a as one’s national, ethnic or even linguistic culture? The answer is clearly, yes. Just as company gives back to the community,” your traditional, says geographic or ethnic culture can have a huge influence on the way you see things, an Joshua Ratcliff, Vice President organization’s of Michael’s culture can have a big impact on its success. Janitorial. As the son of Michael’s Look Janitorial no further than the Virgin Group, founded by the charismatic Sir Richard Branson. Branson owner Michael, Ratcliff has started experienced his first business at the age of 16, and by age 22 had founded Virgin Records. The group now many ups and downs in thecomprises past few 400 years, businesses, amongst themVirgin Atlantic (an airline) and the first-ever commercial space but says he has learned very important flight company, lessonsVirgin Galactic. To say that people who work at Virgin have a culture of innovation is in those struggles. an understatement. The most important lesson: In contrast, to trulyconsider just about any global bank and how they have had to reign in a culture of experience joy and peace,unrestrained you just profit-seeking do that led to the financial crisis. Not only have most banks had to deal with something nice for someone else. “You don’t have to always do something amazing. It’s the simple things,” he says. One of the ways he chose to get involved initially was to help the community by delivering for Meals on Wheels.While simply delivering at first, he soon began to sit with the senior citizens he was delivering for and just talk with them for 20 to 30 minutes. record losses as a result of the crisis, they are now required to adhere to a level of regulation that is And while Ratcliff looks at giving in a imposing costs far beyond those prior to the Great Recession. A culture of greater and greater risk very personal way, he also ensures that his taking and an unrealistic expectation of endless and ever-increasing returns led to lending practices company involved, too. Through this, About be the author... that would have made the neighborhood bank manager of even 10 years ago cringe. Michael’s Janitorial not only helps Meals on Every organization has a specific culture, whether you actively manage it or not. It is the sum total Marc Bolick replanted his Wheels, but they also volunteer with Habitat of your values, vision and people, how they work, the way you view your customers and stakeholders, native roots in Greenville for Humanity, cleaning houses before they after living in Europe for and how all these parts are tied together through rewards and incentives. are dedicated. 13 years. He has worked It may not always be obvious or transparent, and different people in your organization might Ratcliff, companies that make it a inFor all aspects of product describe your culture differently. But make no mistake, you have a culture. And we are not talking point to give back for and make it important and service creation about whether you eat rice for breakfast, or acknowledge an agreement by shaking hands.Your culture for employees to give companies ranging from back bring a life and is the very soul of your organization and actively managing your culture can make all the difference passion into their business that a focus on just Fortune 100 multi-nationals in how well your team performs. to profit mid-sized European firms doesn’t. So, the next time you marvel over how industrious people of a particular nationality are, or how to startups. For the past ten In the end, he believes that we are all put amazing the cuisine was in that last country you visited, think of how strong the force of culture is in years he has run Dmarc8 on this planet to provide a service—whether those people and places. Imagine if you could build and harness a force like that in your organization. International, it’s cleaning,a consulting taking out trash, or being a firm that helps clients to What could you collectively achieve if you had a great culture where you work? doctor. At the end of the day the actual qualify, plan and implement servicegrowth doesn’tstrategies. matter. The only thing that innovative matters is how wellwith you serve and the people Marc is also a partner you thehelp. international design “If service you look into companies that are driven innovation firm, DesignThinkers Group.they are the ones that strong and stay strong, have a business model that gives back to the community,” he says. “It’s not about what service you do, but how well you do it and its effect on those around you.”

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Q1 2014 // Business Black Box

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