Business Black Box Q2 2014

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Your group Major Medical plan will soon be terminated or re-priced to comply with ACA requirements. Millions of employees will face high deductibles or lose their current Major Medical plans all together.


Please join IAG and strategic partner, Equifax for a MUST SEE demonstration intended for CFOs and Benefit Committees: Experience Equifax’s ACA analytics and financial modeling software that enables you to make informed decisions regarding ACA compliance and reporting, health insurance options, and tax ramifications. We will also preview IAG’s HealthWrap, an innovative, fully insured product, underwritten by BCS and administered by PAI. HealthWrap enables you to: opt-out of Major Medical insurance, provide employees with day one basic health care coverage (with no deductibles and no co-pays), and preserve employees’ ability to obtain subsidies and purchase Major Medical insurance from the exchanges.

When: May 8, 2014 from 2pm-4pm Where: Greenville Hyatt Please RSVP by calling Kimberly Harrison at: (864) 527-7941

Insurance Applicati Insurance Applications Group, Inc. Insurance Applications Group, Inc. is an industry-leading, award winning employee benefits firm headquarted in the Upstate. With over 1,000 corporate clients, IAG processed 1.5 million enrollment forms, and enrolled over 600,000 employees in our health insurance benefits plans in 2013. IAG recently formed a strategic partnership with Equifax and announced its new HealthWrap plans to help employers navigate complex ACA regulations, reduce health care costs, and still maintain employee satisfaction.

The National Association of Health Underwriters

NAHU ACA Certification

Soaring Eagle Award

MDRT Top of the Table Member

Inc. Magazine

The National Association of Health Underwriters represents more than 100,000 licensed health insurance agents, brokers, consultants, and benefit professionals through more than 200 chapters across America. Members agree to abide by NAHU’s code of ethics, which requires them to always make health care coverage recommendations with the customer’s best interest in mind.

The PPACA certification course is a certification of expertise in the provisions and implementation of health reform. ACA Certified NAHU members understand the key technical components of PPACA and are better prepared to counsel their clients on upcoming required health care changes and new options and requirements for health plans.

Insurance Applications Group, Inc. has been presented with the 2013 Soaring Eagle Award, which is the highest honor given by the Leading Producers Round Table (LPRT) to recognize National Association of Health Underwriters members who have “achieved the greatest success in demonstrating exceptional professional knowledge and outstanding client services.”

MDRT, The Premier Association of Financial Professionals, is an international, independent association of more than 38,000 of the world’s leading life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 450 companies in 74 countries. MDRT members demonstrate exceptional professional knowledge, strict ethical conduct and outstanding client service. MDRT’s Top of the Table is an exclusive forum for the world’s most successful life insurance and financial services professionals.

Inc. Magazine announced its 30th annual Inc. 500/5000 ranking of the fastest growing private companies in the United States with Insurance Applications Group, Inc. As creator of leading health insurance and benefits programs, this is the fourth year Insurance Applications Group, Inc. has been recognized by Inc. Magazine for extraordinary growth.



I S S U E . . .


From Battlefield to Boardroom

Trash Talk






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if you watched the job openings posted online, you’d find hundreds of jobs open in South Carolina. A random search for jobs posted online in the last 24 hours showed more than 207 jobs in the Greenville area, 213 in the vicinity of Columbia and 183 in the Charleston area, the majority of which are in math and science related fields, such as manufacturing, health care and technology. Job announcements made by the Gov. Nikki Haley’s office during the month of February also indicate a positive employment climate: 500 jobs and a $1 billion investment in Spartanburg County by Toray Industries; 450 jobs and a $2.1 million investment in Greenville County by Esurance; 1,100 jobs and a $135 million medical complex in Summerville by Palmetto Primary Care Physicians.



Q2 2014 // Business Black Box

The numbers would lead you to believe that we are well on our way to recovering from the recession we’ve suffered in recent years, but while statistics show they are improving; we’re still not where we should be.

Workforce Development in South Carolina

Q2/2014 E V E R Y

I S S U E . . .


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Launch: Hentastic

11 Questions: Lillian Brock Flemming




Q2 2014 // Business Black Box


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Trailblazer: Suzanne Dickerson


What Matters: Mary Grace Wallace


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Speed Pitch: Sabai Technologies






Geoff Wasserman

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



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

DE SIGN GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jeff Oehmen ART DIRECTOR Catherine Roberts PHOTOGRAPHY Wayne Culpepper, Fisheye Studios Shawn Stom Photography TRAFFIC COORDINATOR Jessica Riddle


Chris Heuvel



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 C HANGE OF ADDRESS

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Business Black Box is a registered trademark of ShowCase Publishing 2014. Content may not be reproduced without written permission of Business Black Box. Excerpts may be reprinted, provided that credit is given to the author and to Business Black Box magazine.


Jordana Megonigal



Business Black Box (Vol.6, Issue 2) is published four times per year by ShowCase Publishing, 1200 Woodruff Rd. Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607; phone (864) 281-1323; fax (864) 281-1310.



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. EVENT MANAGEMENT / SPONSORSHIP

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








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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

Q2 2014 // Business Black Box




“Success” Advice Sucks

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verywhere I look, there’s another article about “successful people” and all the things they do. “How Successful People Do More Before Breakfast Than You’ll Do All Day.” “The Top 10 Things Successful People Do Before Going to Bed.” “How Successful People Stay Calm.” “Why Successful People Can Juggle It All.” “14 Things All Successful People Have in Common.” At first, I fell into the trap. “I want to be successful! Let me read and absorb all the wisdom! ALL THE SMART THINGS!” But as I chased the phantom list of dos and don’ts—Sleep Less, Read More, Work Out, Plan Every Day, Keep Meetings Short, Eat the Same Thing Every Day (yes, that’s one), and the list goes on—I realized a few things. First, there is no way, with my life of work and three kids elementary age or younger, a husband who travels and a mental plate that is chipped and cracked, that I’ll be able to do all of these things. At least, not with consistency. (Let’s hear it for embracing our truths!) But secondly, and most important, is this: although some people who are successful may do these things, it doesn’t necessarily mean that in order to be successful that I must, also. In short: Successful people, like any others, have routines and strengths. They don’t necessarily “make” the person successful, although they may contribute to a personality or a routine that is successful. In short(er): Just because Sir Richard Branson runs six miles every day (I don’t know if he does), doesn’t make him successful. He is successful because he is Sir Richard Branson, and running is important to him. Me running six miles a day will never make me Sir Richard Branson. It’s critical that we understand this, because the alternate option is to writhe in self-loathing every time we can’t make the gym. “Guess this proves I’ll never be a successful person.” We will blame ourselves when we double book a calendar because if we had had our daily 10–minute planning session it never would have happened. We will become impatient with a meeting that runs past 15 minutes, and become, generally, very cranky “successful” people. But in the end, who defines success anyway? Not one of these pieces has given me that information—they give me steps to get there, but never tell me where “there” is or what it looks like. Does it look like Branson? Or does it, instead, look like me, on a day when I’ve been up all night on deadline, juggled kids into school, packed lunches, worked out, and have managed to do it without snapping at someone in traffic along the way? I’m not saying we don’t read these articles—some have really good points that each of us can absorb without extreme pain—but I am saying that they have a gap of information that we need to be aware of. And maybe, the less we try to be the “success” they are molding us into, we’d be more successful just being us.

Editor, Business Black Box | 864/281-1323 x.1010 | megonigal Photo by Shawn Stom


Q2 2014 // Business Black Box





Individual Photographs Used

182 Photoshop Layers

original photos

color, sharpening and light effects applied

text effects added

background elements & final lighting




Chris Heuvel

Wayne Culpepper FishEye Studios

Thom Shea Q2 2014 // Business Black Box

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Production Hours





Between the Lines


Trash Talk

What we read:

Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life, by Thom Shea

The Gist: Written as a guide for his children should he

not return from war, Unbreakable is the story of Thom Shea, a highly decorated Navy SEAL—one of our most elite fighters—in the middle of war in Afghanistan.

Part of a lobbying effort to reduce outof-state trash finding its way into the Palmetto State, this website is definitely not politically neutral. But looking beyond that—it’s chock full of fascinating facts and tidbits about trash—and not all of them are easy to swallow.

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How it’s Written: A first-person account of being

a SEAL in the midst of war, Unbreakable is a book you won’t see replicated. Written between firefights in Afghanistan, the book takes an honest look at the soldier, the war, and the sacrifices of those back home—all while drilling down on lessons that we should all be adapting to daily life.

Great if: You like war stories, or motivational

business books. Far from a “self-help” manual, this book provides an honest look at modern warfare, but even more—what separates each of us from potential victory.

Don’t Miss: The mini-chapters, which align to form

a very specific plan of action for anyone looking to transform their thinking.

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves... selfdiscipline with all of them came first.”

Our Read: Get a copy. Mark it up as you read.

Then go back and do it again. Take some notes. Just make sure you read it on a few different levels to get everything you can out of it! * Check out our profile on the author on page 30


Q2 2014 // Business Black Box





By the Numbers When it comes to news websites, it’s pretty clear that engagement is directly related to whether or not someone links in from another site, or comes purposefully. In fact, news hounds who go directly to the site will spend about 4 minutes and 36 seconds visiting; while those who come in from Facebook or another search are far less—about one minute and 41 seconds, on average.

From Facebook: 1 minute and 41 seconds

Directly to Site:

4 minutes and 36 seconds

*according to a Pew Research Center study, April-June 2013

Prohibition Party

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This year, for our annual birthday bash, we threw one heck of a party—1920s style! Complete with art deco, whiskey barrels, and a speakeasy, we had a blast celebrating one more year with the business community. Didn’t make it? Sign up for updates on our website,, to get the scoop on the next one!

Q2 2014 // Business Black Box








WHAT: Talented Tenth WHERE: The Hyatt Regency Downtown Greenville, South Carolina WHEN: May 1-3 The purpose of the event is to connect young and professional People of Color with established business and civic leaders from across the Southeast. This unique networking and educational opportunity blends one on one access to top leaders, insight into the political and economic dynamics of Greenville, and professional development with upscale social events.The Talented Tenth Conference is the first event of its kind in Greenville and is designed to bring talented, young people of color from across the Greenville Region together and provide them with a unique opportunity to further their professional development. FOR MORE INFO:

24 For more from Business Black Box visit


WHAT: NEXT High School Industry Partners Summit WHERE: McNair Law Firm Greenville, South Carolina WHEN:April 24, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. NEXT High School has the privilege of being built by the people who show up. Now is your chance to directly participate. The NEXT High School Industry Partner Summit is designed to bring in companies, individuals, and community organizations together to experience and design a core element of NHS: Real World Projects. We are bringing in leaders from the CART (Center for Advanced Research and Technology) in Fresno, CA to lead NHS supporters through a project experience. As a bonus, CU-ICAR will be presenting projects such as Deep Orange (among others). Workshop space is limited to the first 120 industry partners. FOR MORE INFO:


Q2 2014 // Business Black Box


At Business Black Box, we encourage thoughts and feedback from our readers and event attendees. After our recent LEADER Series on Innovation, we asked a few people what they thought about the subject. Here’s one response we received: “Some of the best ideas come from the most unexpected places. How many moonshot-sized ideas are lying dormant inside the minds of people that have limited access to technology and resources? Beyond the pursuit of innovation in our companies, it’s time for us tap in to the ingenuity of the everyman to make things that matter. From the Lowcountry to the Upstate, our region is marked by a respect for tradition, strong sense of place and a set of shared values. Let’s build upon these values to create new systems, technologies and solutions for some of the world’s messiest problems—starting here at home. “When looking towards the future of innovation in our state, let’s imagine what the future might look like by asking big questions that spur radical collaboration, like: How might we work together across sectors to ensure that all citizens are equipped with the tools and skillsets needed to adapt to our ever-changing world? From preschool to professional development, how might our education system foster a sense of empathy, curiosity and creativity among students of all ages? How might we build upon our shared values and strong corporate citizenship to create new types of social businesses and benefit corporations that value people and the planet alongside profit? How might our farmers, universities and entrepreneurs work together to create a system of sustainable agriculture that breathes new life into rural communities? How might we create new ways for citizens to engage in decision-making at every level of governance? How might we use tools like impact investing, social finance, crowd funding and peer lending to fund social innovations in the state? Instead of working to recruit the next Google to town, let’s focus on creating conditions for those in our backyards to dream big, develop and launch moonshot-sized ideas—no matter where they live.”

Ben Riddle Fellow, University Innovation Fellows



tock options are frequently used by start-up companies because they don’t have a lot of cash to reward employees and options create an incentive to increase the value of the company. When an entrepreneur wants to set up a stock option plan, one of the first questions is almost always, “How many shares should I put in my stock option plan?” There is no magic formula. A common rule of thumb is that the option pool should have shares equal to 10 percent of the company’s equity ownership. If you want the latest thinking on option pool size, read venture capital and entrepreneur web sites and you will find all the discussion that you could want on the topic. Before you decide on the size of the option pool, however, you need to understand why it matters. Start with what it means to create an “option pool.” A stock option is a contract right that an employee has to buy company stock. The “option pool” is the total number of shares that can be issued under the plan, and it is created by a provision in the plan that says exactly that. Once options are issued for the maximum number of shares, you have to amend the plan, or create a new one, to issue additional options, which requires board of directors, and possibly shareholder, approval. Why does the option pool size matter? First, if you control the company, it really does not matter because you have the power to increase the pool size whenever you want to do so. If you don’t have control, then you will need the consent of others to change the pool.


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.


Second, keep in mind that creation of the option pool, by itself, does not reduce your ownership in the company. The pool merely sets the maximum number of shares that can be issued. The board of directors determines what options actually will be granted. Even after options are granted, your ownership is not diluted unless and until they are actually exercised and shares are issued. If you control the company, you can determine exactly how much of the pool will be used. Contrary to the belief of some, creation of an option pool does not impose any obligation on the board of directors to use the entire pool. Finally, the option pool size is critical when negotiating with venture capital firms regarding an investment. A VC firm will value the company and then inform you that they are prepared to invest a certain dollar amount for a specific percentage ownership interest. The key is that the venture capital firm will calculate its percentage on a “fully-diluted” basis, which means that they will treat all of the shares in the option pool as though they already had been issued. Assume a company has 70 outstanding shares and an option pool with 10 shares, and a VC firm offers to buy 20 percent of the company. The VC will expect to receive 20 shares, which would give it 20 percent of the company if and when options were granted and exercised for the full option pool. Right after closing, however, the VC will actually own more than 20 percent of the existing ownership of the company because the full pool has not been used yet. If you do the math, the bigger the option pool, the more shares the VC firm will require to achieve its ownership percentage and the less you will own after the VC investment closes. Determining how many shares to put in a stock option plan is an art, not a science, but you should at least go into the process understanding how the size of the pool does (and does not) affect you.

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ALL NATURAL CHICKEN TREATS made by Unipet USA, LLC travelers rest, sc

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From S.C. to the World



ast quarter, we talked about how surfing and spinning plates on the ends of poles are similar—and how they require some of the same skills needed to navigate the HR arena in your business. We discussed the important of focus and how deliberately creating employee strategies to support your business focus makes good sense. This quarter, we’re going to talk about the next critical skill when it comes to implementing these strategies—balance. Plate spinning is an art. Ask any circus performer how she keeps all of the plates perched on precarious poles (say that five times fast!) spinning simultaneously. She’ll tell you, “It’s a delicate balance. Each plate must spin fast enough but not too fast, and you have to pay enough attention to all but not too much to any particular one.” What does this mean for you? 1. Figure out which meal you are trying to serve right now. Most people eat two to three meals a day, but few people think the best choice is to eat them all at once. If your initiatives for 2014 include launching a new product, decreasing expenses and building talent in your sales team, great! Addressing them all at the staff meeting on Monday? Not great. Instead, identify which two or three actions might be important for each initiative and try grouping them a few different ways. For example, to launch a new product, we might need to spark employee creativity, and that creativity might also help us with decreasing expenses. Maybe



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.

it won’t bring in new sales talent, but it might help spark some ideas in our existing staff. So, instead of dispersing your attention on all three initiatives, think focus on ways to tap into the creativity of your staff—and let them help you leverage yourself through their ideas. 2. Take small bites. Successful plate spinners don’t start out with five or six plates. First they practice with one, and then add another, and another. In our lives, the plates we spin are things like careers, children, partners, colleagues, finances and health challenges. At work, the plates hold clients, projects, employees, regulations, facilities… and the list goes on. Yet we delude ourselves into thinking we have to spin all of these plates and still come up with fully formed “programs”—complete with catchy names and incentive plans—in order to make changes. At The Hayes Approach, my clients hear me say all the time, ‘You can do anything, but you cannot do everything. And you can do many things, but you cannot do them all at once.” If there is no time for a “Creativity Program,” how about just bringing up the word at meetings? Asking people to play the Devil’s Advocate in both positive and negative ways? Assign an unlikely pair to work on a project together—letting them know that you are valuing their different perspectives? 3. Put your fork down and stop chewing. Sometimes the right answer is to rest. If you want different results from your employees this year than the ones you got last year, don’t just do what you did last year harder and faster. Instead, stop and consider what you are doing and why. • Thinking of dropping health coverage and sending employees to the exchanges? Why do you offer healthcare? How does it further your employee strategies? • Want to implement a performance appraisal system? What do you expect to gain from doing it? • Worried that there are legal holes in your HR approach? Pause and do an audit—or get someone to do it for you. Want better results from your staff in 2014? Then right now: 1. Reread Q1’s column and determine a focus. 2. Pick one employee strategy that supports that focus and brainstorm two small “bites” to try this month. 3. Pause for 30 minutes and pick one initiative that you want to revisit.


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It’s widely touted in circles of entrepreneurs or start-ups, but innovation itself has a lifespan far beyond being just that next “big idea.” From manufacturing to healthcare, innovation has a place at the table— and it’s becoming necessary to compete in both the local global economy. So, we asked four business leaders—you may remember them from our March LEADER Series on the same topic—what innovation looks like to them, and how they see it transforming our state in the future. This is what they told us.


Q2 2014 ////Business BusinessBlack BlackBox Box


Amy Love

Director of Innovation, South Carolina Department of Commerce

To me, innovation is looking at any existing goods, service, problem or process and determining if there is a better way. Innovation does not necessarily require creativity or originality, but can include the application of existing ideas, procedures or techniques. The real talent for innovation is not necessarily the creation of innovative solutions, but the ability to see the application of existing processes, technologies, techniques, or ideas to your particular situation. For innovation in 2014, especially in South Carolina, the efforts to promote innovation, should be focused on the small and medium sized companies. From 2000 to 2010, companies with 19 or less employees almost doubled and it is anticipated that the future job growth will be with these companies sizes. It is these companies that will most greatly affect the economy in a positive way.

Innovation is the application of solutions that close a market gap or even create a new market. Innovation does not occur overnight—it must be nurtured, developed, positioned, and deployed. Due to its traditional production capacities, South Carolina is well positioned to quickly realize the benefits of innovation: new jobs, new enterprises, and sustainable growth. However, South Carolina should continue focusing its efforts on building an economic environment conducive to innovation. The optimal methods to accomplish this include: facilitating connections among the innovative community, stimulating private investment through incentives, and protecting private innovative advances. Innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and knowledge are the essential components to compete in a global economy. The common denominator of these components is human capital. Certain cities and companies in South Carolina recognize the value of human capital and are taking the necessary steps to attract, recruit, and develop the best innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Innovation represents the accelerated movement of novel ideas into the marketplace, and is the only way that South Carolina and the U.S. are going to compete successfully in the global economy.“

For South Carolina in 2014, the focus of innovation should be for each supporting organization to stress: (a) project based learning, (b) teaching concepts not facts; (c) stressing that skills are as important as knowledge; (d) learn in teams, not groups; (e) constantly think outside the box and look outside your normal day for potential solutions and (f) reward those that find “innovative” solutions. With these efforts, South Carolina has the ability to be a thought leader in innovation and continue in its accomplishments such as CU-ICAR, The Department of Commerce Office of Innovation and the multiple organization that focus on entrepreneurship and innovation around the state. By understanding that the promotion of innovation at the small and medium sized company will be the key to the future, we can continue to make South Carolina, especially the Upstate, an shining example of entrepreneurship and innovation.

South Carolina will flourish when it fully recognizes and cultivates human capital as the impetus of a modern, thriving economy.

Adam Quattlebaum

Tax Manager, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP

Innovation represents the accelerated movement of novel ideas into the marketplace, and is the only way that South Carolina and the U.S. are going to compete successfully in the global economy. Innovation leads to high-tech start-up companies that provide a major net growth of new jobs, and is the fuel for a knowledge-based/entrepreneurial economy which is taking root in South Carolina and Greenville – as directly evidenced in the Upstate through the rise of CU-ICAR, the NEXT Center, and the GHS Academic Health Center.

Sam Konduros

Executive Director, Research Development Corporation, Greenville Healthcare System

Doug Kim

Shareholder, McNair Law FIrm

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Innovation looks more collaborative in 2014. The landscape is vast for executing new ideas, so it becomes even more important to work across geographies, industries and networks to build an even stronger innovation ecosystem in South Carolina. Innovation by nature is not predictable. It’s experimental, risky. So what are we as an innovation community in South Carolina going to do to embrace this? I think working together, connecting and sharing insights is a big key.


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


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



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Two Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) immediately hit the spot the helicopter vacated. It was foretelling. It would mark two days of one of the biggest firefights Shea would ever see—and the point where he stopped fearing death. Slinking away from the landing, the platoon made its way across desert, aided by Apache pilots in the sky and translators on the ground. Two hours in, they were attacked by 30 enemy fighters—Chechnyan fighters, who had made their way across borders, just for the fight. The Apache pilot put an end to that. “After 0200 hours, I was tired….dead tired,” Shea writes. “We had crossed two streams, my feet were wet, my damn sock had sunk down into my freakin’ left boot, and I could feel wet sand and dirt digging a hole in my left heel.” But this is the life of a SEAL in service, and the platoon pressed on, finally clearing a village that would later become the center of war. They prepped the area, “digging in” to areas that would provide the best soldiers in the world with a modicum of safety. And then, they waited. The waiting was filled with short naps, Gatorade, and watching Turbo, the unit K-9, take his wrath out on a pillow. But it wouldn’t last. “All of a sudden, my skin crawled and the hairs on the back of my neck literally stood erect and tall,” Shea notes. “The sound of the explosions was deafening. Dust flew everywhere. I somehow put on my body armor…without even knowing it. I cleared my head and put on my [communications] headset and helmet, frantically trying to make comms and listen in. I recall saying, “Oh, my God!” out loud. After five attempts, I became convinced—I mean really clear in my dumb brain—I was the only one still alive. Another volley of rounds hit the wall outside, and off in the distance I could hear other battles raging. “For the first and only time in my life I said to myself, ‘I am dead.’ My legs buckled, and I lay there, looking up into nothingness.”


Q2 2014 // Business Black Box


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Raised in Indiana, Thomas Shea grew up surrounded by adventure. At the age of 12 he ran a trap line on the river behind his house. His favorite memories revolve around hunting and fishing—an outdoor life in which he thrived— and sports like football and track. It was football that would get him recruited to West Point, but English that would fail him out. Shea left West Point and took up with a job as a guide in Ontario. But challenged by his father to go back to school, Shea did— this time to Ball State University, where he graduated with a degree in exercise physiology. But something else was pulling at him: the drive to be a Navy SEAL. “I had always wanted to, and I was talked out of it,” he remembers. “I wanted to be a Warrior at West Point, but that didn’t work out, and it kept lingering.” So without anyone’s permission, Shea headed to the recruiter’s office. “There was just the one in 10 million shot that one of the recruiters was a SEAL,” Shea remembers. After all, SEALs—arguably the most elite military fighters in the world—are few and far between. To find one serving as a recruiter was an even smaller chance. Still, the recruiter set Shea on a path, and signed hime up for Dive Fair—a direct track into the SEAL program. With some training as a medic, Shea headed into SEAL training with class 195 in April of 1994, but got a concussion in Hell Week and couldn’t complete. During his second attempt, in class 196, he dislocated his shoulder. In fact, it would take him four attempts to make it through training to become a Navy SEAL—and he’d be the only man in the world who could say they allowed him that many tries. But those setbacks provided a learning opportunity for Shea—one that he would not soon forget, and one that would shape his life far into his future. “I learned something there that shows up later in life: You have to overcome your own dialogue that stops you from being successful,” Shea says. Learning how to talk to himself was a feat, but one that carried him through a program with a 90 percent attrition rate, to his first team. His career with SEAL Team 2 began and ended in Kosovo, where he provided rescue missions for a U.S. Ambassador to the region, and spent weeks at a time doing deep reconnaissance work.


Q2 2014 // Business Black Box

Back in the village stronghold near Khandahar, Shea wasn’t dead, though his body desperately wanted to give up. While the attack raged on outside, Shea talked to himself. He knew, as Stacy repeatedly told him, that fear of death made him weak. He knew, too, that being taken prisoner wasn’t an option—he had failed out of Survive Escape Resist Evade training after knocking out an instructor who kept prodding him. The only option left was to fight. And so, the conversation in his head shifted into a new dialogue—one that stirred the warrior within. “In my thoughts, I formed a new dialogue: ‘I ain’t dying without killing as many of them as I can. I would rather my wife and kids read I was dead on top of a pile of enemies, than have them find out I was taken prisoner,’” he says.

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After a five-year run with SEAL Team 2, (SEALs can only stay with a team for five or six years), Shea took a position as an instructor in BUD/S training (Basic Underwater Demolition/ SEAL). It was September 9, 2001. Two days later, the whole world changed.And just like that, Shea began training the most elite fighters in the world for a new war in a new era. “It became real very quickly,” he says. “All the people that you see on the movies were guys that I trained during that period of time,” he notes, citing the most recent blockbuster Lone Survivor as an example. “I don’t know if that’s a dubious honor or not.” Four years later, Shea checked into SEAL Team 7, where he would stay through the rest of his career. In 2007, Team 7 became the first military unit to train Iraqi Special Forces and turn over responsibility to them. Later that year, Shea was named Platoon Chief, and although his unit was scheduled to head toward the Philippines, they ended up as one of two SEAL teams selected to head into Afghanistan—the first SEAL units to hit the country since Operation Red Wings, in which an ambush attack left only one out of 20 special operations soldiers alive. But before he left, Shea was given a task that would prove harder than any mission he’d been on before. For two years, his wife, Stacy, asked that he write down his thoughts for his three children, in case he didn’t come back from war. It was this journey that would not only shape his thoughts and desires for his children, but also a world beyond his career as a SEAL.

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But even as he rose up with a new mantra in his mind, over 700 yards away, an enemy sniper in the hills surrounding the compound had his sights on Shea. The ensuing firefight lasted two shots; the enemy sniper did not survive it. The platoon fought hard. Shea—along with “Texas”, the youngest man on the platoon—ran from cover into direct fire to reach the rest of the platoon. And then, with every weapon available, they lived out Shea’s new mission—to kill as many enemy as possible. For two days, hell lived in Kandahar, and SEAL Team 7 bore witness to it. It was a fight that would result in Shea’s award of a Silver Star—the third highest decoration for valor among U.S. Armed Forces. As noted in the citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Leading Chief Petty Officer for SEAL Team Seven Bravo Platoon, in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 20 April to 1 October 2009. Chief Shea led his platoon during a two-day direct action mission in Northern Kandahar Province from 16 to 17 July 2009 when his element came under attack from heavy automatic weapons and rocketpropelled grenade fire. Despite his element being pinned down with enemy rounds impacting inside his compound, Chief Shea courageously led his platoon’s counter-attack by immediately moving through a hail of fire to an exposed position, where he fired dozens of mortars while simultaneously coordinating his platoon’s fire against the enemy. Chief Shea’s decisive actions defeated the enemy’s attack, inspired his platoon, and contributed to 56 enemy killed in action. He displayed exemplary combat leadership during 22 firefights totaling 340 hours of troops in contact in the course of 20 combat missions that resulted in 174 enemy killed in action, six high-value individuals captured, and $1.3 billion in enemy narcotics, weapons and explosive material destroyed. Chief Shea’s bold leadership, courageous actions and complete dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. As is typical with limited warfare, new battles sprung up day after day. For Shea’s platoon, they eventually handed over the reigns of war to a new unit. But they left with something more valuable than medals or war stories: not one man on his team was injured or killed, and no man was left behind.


Q2 2014 // Business Black Box

Upon returning home, Shea was asked to speak to Congress about his views on effective combat leadership. For only seven minutes, he was allowed to speak on his experience and leadership as a Navy SEAL. “What is it that we did that was so unique that we should be able to pass on to other people? I guess if you’re going through hell for six months and in harm’s way and don’t get anyone injured, you should be able to pass that along, or at least tell that story,” he says of the effort. But that moment in front of the U.S. lawmakers would put another fire in him—the desire to understand human performance. Identifying what Shea calls the “Five pyramids of Human Performance”—physical capability, intellect, spirituality, wealth and relationships—he began a personal mission of interviewing some of the top performers in each of those capacities, from all over the world. In this exercise, he discovered that they all had something in common—and it was something he had learned back in training as a SEAL. It is, essentially, this: You shape who you are by what you tell yourself. “I’m interested in how humans perform: there’s a language behind each action that precedes that action,” he says. “When you transform your language, you can transform your action. “Usain Bolt will tell you, ‘I’m the fastest man in the world,’” Shea says. “It’s not that he’s proud of it; it’s just how he identifies himself. Likewise, top people—entrepreneurs—can redefine themselves in half a minute.” While Shea spent time researching what he now refers to as “internal dialogue,” he was also training SEALs in sniper school, and working in research and development for the Navy. He used these opportunities to “experiment,” using training exercises as opportunities to bring out the best in his men. “That was a huge shift for me—being responsible to people that are learning something that is very difficult to do,” Shea says. “But, I jockeyed the program around and actually made it harder. I made the tests harder, I made the staff more accountable.” While one would naturally assume that a harder program would increase the attrition rate, the changes made a dramatic and unexpected difference. “The guys rose to the occasion,” he says. “We graduated more people in two years than they had in five years prior…


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it was important to me to get more of them out there at a higher level.” All the while, Shea was honing his speech, learning how to put years of information into smaller, digestible packages for others. At the same time, thanks to the longstanding friendships with people like Jerry and Tammy Barber, Shea and Stacy found their way to Greenville, S.C., where they decided to make their new home—and begin their new life. Upon retirement in January of this year, Shea decided he would share his experience and findings on the subject. That would happen in two ways: first, to take his writings from deployment, along with letters to his children and his wife, and compile them into a guidebook of sorts. The result was a book, Unbreakable: A Navy SEALs Way of Life, to be released in May 2014. In addition to authoring Unbreakable, which lays out a path for those interested in changing their own Internal Dialogue, Shea also had the opportunity to take years of experience—years learning that what he told himself directly reflected his attitude and capacity in life—and pass it on to the rest of the world personally, through speaking engagements, conferences and seminars. Even for those not in the military, the process is a formidable learning experience. Called “Performance in the Margin,” it examines the gap between where someone is personally, and where they need to be to master the five pyramids of performance. Shea has taken the concept before a number of groups of business leaders and corporate employees, with great results. “The first one we did was for Washington Mutual stockbrokers,” he says. “In a five-month period of time their results tripled.” But the process is about far more than sales numbers; it’s about people capitalizing on their potential, and not just their immediate capacity. And there’s no better example of that than Shea himself, who has proven himself far more than a highly decorated soldier. He, in truth, is a coach, a motivator, and a model of leadership—in not just the military world, but the business world, as well.

Today, under the banner of Adamantine Alliance (adamantine means “unbreakable”), Shea and his partners are changing people by helping them change their


Q2 2014 // Business Black Box

vision of them selves. And Shea— the man who served the U.S. in service for 21 years, and taught 330 Basic SEAL students and 112 SEAL snipers—now teaches groups of anywhere between 40 and 600 people some of the same tactics that he used to survive an unwinnable war. “I think this is what most people go through when they attempt something difficult— maybe it is what we all go through, even on the smallest things—we subconsciously talk ourselves out of everything new, and never realize we actually talked ourselves out of it in the first place. We become resigned and cynical, and go to bed each night untransformed and unmoved by how great we all truly are,” he says. So while this practice of Internal Dialogue can be challenging, that alternative— becoming cynical and unchangeable—only serves to limit one’s potential. “[Internal Dialogue] is what you say to yourself about who you are. This def ines you and shapes your physical and mental actions, literally bridging the gap between your goals and where you are physically and mentally,” Shea says. “What a man says to himself in the crucial moment between a perfect operation and falling off a cliff always tips the scale and shifts the battle.”


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he world’s leading corporate credit rating agencies, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, methodically analyze and track the financial state of major borrowers and, in each case, issue a globally accepted “grade” which is used by lenders to determine creditworthiness and financial stability. Most readers will be more familiar with a similar— albeit simpler—system, called your “credit score.” In both cases, a better score indicates financial strength and discipline and results in better access to money. While an individual’s credit score is represented by a numerical expression, credit rating agencies that deal with corporations, municipalities and even countries, employ a letter based grading system. Just as with those grades on your old school report cards, “As” are always best A few years ago, as I began my mission to help people with their startup ideas, I developed a simplified “profit and loss statement” (P&L) to help budding entrepreneurs gain a powerful financial tool with which to manage their companies. The one-page document charts the first 36 months of the new company, and when complete, shows estimated future net results for the company based on figures input into the document. To determine the strength and viability of the project, the P&L also borrows the grading system concept from the major rating houses. Again, “As” are best.


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.


When starting any task, a conservative goal is always safer than a risky one—let’s say, biting off just enough to comfortably chew. Let’s start with revenue. A lower revenue target is easier to achieve than a higher one. Selling 500 widgets per month may be easy, moving 750 units may be attainable with some hard work, and 1,000 widgets may be reachable, but that big client would have to come through with an order. And so, in our system, a monthly projection of 500 widgets would get an “A” grade, 750 receives a “B” and 1,000 would constitute a grade of “C.” Keep in mind that these figures must all be realistic. Selling one widget—the equivalent of high jumping two inches—cannot be considered a valid goal. The same principal is applied to expenses, except the grades are now reversed. The higher expense projection, i.e. budgeted expense, which is the most conservative estimation, receives an “A”, and the lowest estimated figure, which, by definition, leaves little breathing room, is given a “C” rating. If rent is expected to be $1,200 per month, budgeting for only $1,200 leaves no room for expansion. Hence, higher expense budgets place the company in a stronger position than lower, growth constricting, dollar amounts and receive better grades. After determining your company’s realistic low and high ranges for each revenue and expense category, try inputting the most conservative numbers into your P&L spreadsheet. If your company nets a respectable profit that satisfies your personal objectives, then use this P&L as your guide to set the company’s immediate goals.You should be able to achieve your revenue goals and it should not be difficult to operate the company with the generous expense budgets you have set. Since you used the “A” revenue projection and the highest expense budget, give your company an “AA” rating. If entering “A” revenues and “A” expenses results in a loss, or doesn’t meet your financial goal, then you will have to use “B” figures for either the revenue or for the expenses, thereby creating an “AB” company. Keep going until your P&L is “in the black.” If the only way to show a healthy net profit is to use your “C” numbers, this project demands a major restructuring, or you just might want to rethink the whole idea. Finally, with a solid projected profit and loss statement in place, the main objective of your business is simply to beat every revenue projection each month and to control spending within the budgeted expense amounts. Outperform on the sales side, underspend on outgoing cash and your company will create even more net profit than originally planned … resulting in a richer you. For more on this topic visit



Organizations like CU-ICAR don’t just exist on their own—they require partnerships and hard work to keep in front of the pack. For Suzanne Dickerson, those partnerships aren’t just her job. They’re also her passion.

Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios


TRAILBLAZER. By Josh Overstreet

South Carolina has long been a place for manufacturing, and in recent years, in the automotive sector. Companies from around the world want to locate and work here, and more often than not, they thrive because of it. As Director of International Business Development at CUICAR, Suzanne Dickerson has been at the very front of growth of the program and the industry in general. Dickerson, an 18-year veteran in the automotive industry, was born in California and attended Indiana University, focusing on international business. After graduation, she began working for BMW in Germany. Then, when BMW came to the Upstate, Dickerson relocated and continued working for them until 2008, when CU-ICAR became a global leader in automotive research and development. While initially CU-ICAR began with 11 partners, due to tireless efforts over the past six years, more than 100 partners have been added since the beginnings. “Sometimes it feels like intergalactic we have so much going on,” she says.“The velocity of interest in CU-ICAR is as high today as it has ever been.” Dickerson’s job in this competitive market is to be a “door opener and deal closer”—finding companies to partner with CUICAR to help create not only innovation, but innovators. “We play an important role in getting students in front of the automotive industry in a very appealing way,” she notes.

One such program is Deep Orange, in which a company will come in and partner with students in the design and creation of concept vehicles—creating the next generation of automobile. Toyota will be this year’s partner for Deep Orange, which, according to Dickerson, is incredibly exciting, as Toyota is the number one auto manufacturer in the world. Whether it’s tactical marketing or partnership growth and management, Dickerson and her team are hard at work making sure that what CUICAR is doing is well known— not only internationally, but also locally. Part of that means creating innovation, but also adding value to South Carolina’s companies and giving them an edge in the market. “[Automotive companies] are getting something in South Carolina that makes them stay and keep the jobs in state,” Dickerson says. One of the newest and most exciting partnerships is the Center for Manufacturing Innovation—a collaboration between CU-ICAR and Greenville Tech. In a move that has “never been done before,” the Center will house workforce development and research facilities side-by-side, creating a union that will not only develop a competitive workforce, but a workforce that is five steps ahead of the market. After all, a competitive and innovative workforce is the single most important thing for the automotive industry, but especially at the manufacturing level. Additionally, for South Carolina to continue to win these partnerships, the workforce needs to be both highly qualified, but also highly quantified— pulling from pools of talented workers.

“Where the quality goes from being a theory to a reality occurs in the manufacturing process,” says Dickerson. “If we want to make a case for companies to bring their jobs here, we have to be homegrowing our own better-educated technician level, associate level, engineering level, and management level workforce.” It is the need for this talented workforce that drives research and development in the face of what, according to Dickerson, are the two biggest challenges facing the industry today: first, the government mandate that all cars get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025; and second, the growing trend among younger generations that don’t see the advantages of car ownership. “It’s not like my generation when we were all jumping at 15.5 years of age and rushing over to the DMV and getting our driver’s license,” she says. From sneak peeks to tradeshows, Dickerson is always putting what CU-ICAR is doing in the spotlight in order for attention to be drawn to it and South Carolina. There’s also the opportunity for smaller businesses to get involved, something that few may realize. “We invite new companies to participate in the programs,” she says. “Sometimes we find a small, entrepreneurial company that has an idea that we think can be of interest but have never had an audience.”




here was an old gas stove in the house where I grew up. As far as I know, the pilot light in that old gas stove never worked—if it ever had a pilot light.When I was 10 years old, that old gas stove and I caused an explosion serious enough that it singed my eyebrows and threw me across the kitchen, alerting my parents to my transgression of playing with fire. It also taught me an important lesson: Always have the match ready and lit before you turn on the gas. The more universal lesson, however, came from my Dad when I complained that my shoulder and arm hurt. “Son,” he said. “Stupid is supposed to hurt.” Stupid hurts in sales, too. While it might not (always) cause a violent explosion, stupid can result in wasted time, an unrealistic pipeline, and a diminished income. That’s because selling, done correctly, is a two step process. Take those steps in the wrong order and you’ll learn what I mean. Do you think your job is to convince others to use your product or service? If so, you’ve probably been taught to Go Get Appointments! (Everyone is a prospect, right?) When you get there, make friends and give the prospect the pitch about why your product or service is better, maybe even perfect for the buyer! In this school of thought, success is measured by how many proposals you have out there.


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.Contact Walker at (803) 667-4598 or at

Spaghetti Selling, or “throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall to see what sticks,” is a pretty good technical description. Professionals have a different view. They call it “free consulting.” Step one in a professional’s selling process is to see if the buyer is going to do something differently than he is doing now. That’s it. Has nothing to do with your solution. What compelling reason does the buyer have to change? We can’t tell them why; they have to figure it out. It has to be their idea and it has to come out of their mouth. Until they say it, it isn’t real. (The dirty secret is that most people don’t have a compelling reason to change anything. Change is hard.) Worse yet, most salespeople don’t care whether or not there is even the potential for change. Instead, they see it as their job to give away information and to be persistent in their follow-up. How much time should you spend giving prospects who have shared no compelling reason to change your prices and information? Not much. Doing so would be stupid. When a prospect who is not ready to change gets your information and pricing it is, at best, disregarded. At worst, it is shared with your competitors and then later, used against you. That hurts—and it’s supposed to. Be a part of a conversation in which your prospect finds a compelling reason to do something differently. Let them tell you why changing would matter before you explore whether or not your solution is the change they need. Otherwise? There’s a good chance you are just going to get burned.


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thanks to an eye-catching ad featuring the heavily accented "Antony" narrating a thank-you to South Carolina for taking New York's trash. "We can't have mountains of garbage stinking up Staten Island," says Antony, "and we can unload it on yous cheap since you don't mind us making your state a dump. Talk about southern hospitality." The ad is a political push to urge lawmakers and constituents to take a stand against the H.3290 bill in the S.C. statehouse, but it's also bringing to light a dirty little secret that no one can do much about: the importation of more than 4.1 million tons of out-of-state trash to South Carolina landfills in the last five years.


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Many feel that the bill H.3290, also known as the "Business Freedom to Choose Act," would open the door to more out-ofstate waste. If passed, local governments would no longer have control over the waste in the state's nine county-owned landfills. Nicknamed the "flow control bill," it would prevent local officials from creating public ordinances that manage the flow of waste, which opponents say threatens their ability to use financing tools that make their bond rates affordable. "If they lose the ability to get bonded," explains public affairs strategist Chip Felkel, "they may lose their ability to then run the local facility." That, in turn, could force the public landfills to go bankrupt, and put into the hands of private companies who would have even more capacity to haul in out-of-state trash. "Once it's licensed as a privately-owned landfill, you have little control over what's dumped there," says Felkel. The legislation passed easily through the House last year by a vote of 89 to 28, but Felkel says that's because it was misrepresented to members. In fact, he says, Waste Management and Republic Services— the two largest waste-management providers in both the state and in the country—have hired more than two dozen lobbyists to work to get H.3290 approved.

a move that prevented people from crossing county lines and using a privately run landfill that charged lower fees instead. "I never did see it as an out-of-state trash bill," says Allison. "It had to do with a public/private situation where a private company was undercutting the county on taking trash." Rep. Dennis Moss, who serves sections of Cherokee, Chester and York counties in District 29, also sponsored the bill. "I thought it was a good bill when it was in the House," says the retired law enforcement officer, who was concerned that if the bill didn't pass, his constituents would not be allowed to continue to take their trash across county lines. "Cherokee County that I live in, we don't have a landfill; we carry our debris to Spartanburg and Union," explains Moss. "That's why I supported the bill. If Horry County gets their way does that mean Cherokee County is going to have to build a landfill? We don't have one."

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"There's a lot of money at stake for these companies," says Felkel, who adds that the companies are using the legislation as a way to gain more control of the state's waste business. "There has been a monumental effort to get that thing through the House under the belief that it was only a local issue," he explains, with hopes that the bill will die in committee with the Senate. "We felt like there had been a misinterpretation or misrepresentation to the members who voted for this bill." But 49 members of the House of Representatives are listed as sponsors of the bill, including Rep. Rita Allison of District 36, which covers portions of Greenville and Spartanburg counties. Allison still sees the bill as a local issue impacting Horry County, where County council members wanted to create a rule that trash created in the county had to be disposed of in the county,

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And, Moss says, they don't want one either. Experts say it takes 300-500 acres to build a landfill, with even more land necessary for adequate buffering. That's like filling Carowinds amusement park with trash—possibly spilling over. In an area like Cherokee County, the options for a piece of property that size are limited. "There's not many tracts around that would justify putting in a landfill that's not near a river or creek or water," says Moss. "It's a necessary evil that we produce so much trash that we have to spend so much money disposing of it."

While South Carolina’s trash has become a hot political topic, there’s no denying that garbage is big business. Waste Management, the largest waste-management provider in the country, services more than 20 million customers across the U.S. and reported revenues of $13.98 billion in 2013. Along with Republic Services, the pair control about 75 percent of South Carolina's trash. But what those in the environmental community find particularly disturbing is their practice of bringing in other states' trash to South Carolina dumps.

According to DHEC—the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control—the earliest records reporting out-of-state trash entering South Carolina date back to 1995. Fast forward 18 years and in all, South Carolina became the dumping ground for 666,582 tons of out-of-state trash in 2013—a slight decrease from the 689,514 tons brought in back in 2012. The trash comes from three states: North Carolina accounts for 60 percent of the out-of-state trash while New York makes up 35 percent and Georgia just 5 percent. Unfortunately, federal inter-state commerce law makes it impossible for South Carolina to regulate what kind of trash is brought in, and even more, those same laws prevent the state from taxing out-of-state waste. In fact, the only limit private landfill owners must adhere to is their permitted capacity. "The Demonstration of Need Regulation sets the maximum amount of waste that each Class 3 solid waste landfill can dispose each year," explains DHEC's Jim Beasley. "The regulation does not designate where the waste comes from—only the amount that can be accepted." In the Upstate, the permitted capacity is more than double what's needed. Ten Upstate counties have a permitted landfill capacity of about 3.5 million tons, but last year, residents in the Upstate generated only about 1.4 million tons, leaving landfills with about 2.1 tons that can potentially be sold to other states.

For private landfill owners, this leaves a lot of space in which to bring in even more out-of-state trash. "The only people Waste Management and Republic [Services] answer to are their shareholders," says Felkel, whereas "if you don't like what's being brought in to a public landfill you can elect other people." Shelley Robbins, program associate with Upstate Forever, says she's been following this issue for about seven years. "What we determined is that South Carolina has tremendous excess capacity," says Robbins, who served on a DHEC taskforce that rewrote regulations determining how big a landfill can be. "When that happens, private landfills will sell that out-of-state to the highest bidder." From a staunchly bottom-line perspective, it makes sense for the private businesses to do so. Take Palmetto Landfill in Spartanburg County, a facility owned by Waste Management. In 2012, it was permitted to take in 1.2 million tons, but only brought in 291,086 tons, nearly half of which was trucked in from North Carolina. Upstate Regional Landfill in Union County has a permitted capacity of 910,000 tons; in 2012, it disposed of nearly 800,000 tons with 140,000 tons coming from out-of-state.

The landfill taking in the most out-of-state trash is Lee County Landfill, owned by Republic Services. In 2013, they transported nearly 215,000 tons in from out-of-state, mostly by railcar from New York. "Lee County brings in de-watered sewer sludge from New York," says Robbins. "It sits on a train for about a week and stinks to high heaven." But this is somewhat of an anomaly—most landfills are not accessible by train and Robbins would like to keep it that way. "One thing we in the conservation community are trying to do is resist a proliferation of landfills that can be active by train," she says. "As soon as they can they're going to bring it in from the northeast." After all, those land-strapped northeastern states are used to

paying over $100 a ton in tipping fees—the hard cost to dispose of solid waste at a landfill—for trash. In South Carolina, however, the average tipping fee for a Class 3 location that accepts household waste is just $38 a ton. That's a big savings for other states, and an income opportunity for South Carolina landfills. Still, as much sense as it makes for the businesses involved, some wonder if the environmental price is too high.

Short term, the state faces negatives like damage to roads by heavy truck traffic or air quality issues due to methane gas emissions at landfills. Typically, trash that hits landfills is a mix of household, human and medical waste, and while DHEC can’t regulate the waste, they do monitor it. “Solid waste is screened to make sure it is appropriate for disposal in a given facility,” says Beasley. “In this respect, out-ofstate waste is the same as in-state generated waste.” “You’ve got the smell.You have decreased property values and you may even have short term leaks, too” adds Robbins. Long term, she worries about contamination. "Eventually landfills are going to leak. All that stuff we've been throwing in them, the strange chemicals we use, eventually it's going to find the ground water." She points to two local landfills with known leaks—the old, unlined section of the Wellford Landfill and the Arkwright landfill, "a leaky mess that the City of Spartanburg has invested significant funds in to clean up, stabilize and monitor," says Robbins. Both threaten water sources—the Tyger River and Fairforest Creek, respectively. Of course, should these leaks ever hit water sources, the damage could be even worse. Although definite results are hard to quantify, there has been much research on the subject—much of it pointing to health hazards for those who live off or near those water sources. From claims of increased rates of cancer to birth defects (as pointed out in a study published by Martine Vrijheid of the Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Department


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of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London) the long-term issues—while still under intense scrutiny—could be staggering. While there may be very little South Carolina can do to restrict out-of-state waste, South Carolina residents make annual improvements by reducing the amount of waste produced per person and increasing recycling rates. In 1993, the average person in South Carolina recycled just .13 pounds per day. By 2012 that number increased to 1.4 pounds recycled per day. According to DHEC Director Catherine Templeton, the state's goal is to recycle 40 percent or more of its trash by 2020.

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"We can't afford to squander natural resources, tax dollars and economic growth when we have better options," Templeton wrote in DHEC's annual report. "If we are to convince more businesses and industries to reduce waste and recycle, we must lead by example in state government." Robbins says Spartanburg County is leading by example when it comes to disposing of household hazardous materials. It's the only county in the Upstate offering an annual opportunity for residents to bring potentially dangerous products like paint thinner, furniture polish and fertilizers that should not end up in the landfill. Shawn Drury serves as spokesman for Don’t Dump on SC, a coalition of residents and organizations fighting against out-of-state trash. So far, he says, 38 of 46 South Carolina counties have passed resolutions opposing H. 3290. He’s sharing the organization’s message with various community groups and the response from residents is typically the same. “When they hear about what this legislation would lead to,” Drury says of H.3290, “a lot of state pride takes over.” After all, when it comes to trash, the biggest weapon in the fight is awareness—from those who craft the legislation to those in every South Carolina household. "We as a society are starting to realize the long term implications of what we throw in that expensive hold in the ground," says Robbins. "Hopefully it's not too little too late. Hopefully we're not leaving a big mess for our grandchildren."

Q2 2014 // Business Black Box




Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

By Josh Overstreet

One of the draws of entrepreneurialism is that a resume isn’t as important as having a winning personality and the guts to seize opportunities that come your way. “One of my goals was to never make a resume,” said Jeremiah Dew (or, as he is better known around the Upstate, JDew). In 1997, when his family moved to Greenville from Southern California, the Upstate became home. After graduating in 2007 from Bob Jones University, Dew floated between part time jobs until landing a job as Producer of Game Entertainment for the Greenville Drive. Among other things, he became the emcee for games, where his identity as “JDew” became a part of the Greenville community. Under that identity, he also became the on court hype guy for Clemson men’s and women’s basketball. In February 2011, however, Dew stepped back­—taking on a part-time role as Director of Fun for the Drive—to throw himself fully into a new enterprise, Gamemaster.

Originally, Gamemaster did video production work for a few clients, creating entertainment based video and media for use on big screens, but according to Dew, “the big fun started happening when we sat down and created Main St. Mania in the summer of 2012.” What originally started as an idea for a TV show pilot in which residents of a town would compete in a scavenger hunt—a challengebased competition showcasing different things to do and see around the featured town or city—soon become more. While doing the event in downtown Greenville, a corporate planner noticed and wanted to know more about it. “What are you guys selling, because I’m buying,” she told Dew. That chance meeting would not only turn into another Main St. Mania with over 100 participants, but would also give Dew reason to take it to the next level. So in December of 2012, Dew met Peter Barth, the founder of the local incubator/

accelerator Iron Yard, and Gamemaster became part of the Iron Yard in April 2013. As Gamemaster was not a technology company, they adapted their model and, through the program, developed the Questalot app. The app grew out of a need for a fast way to communicate and check in at different locations and complting different challenges, as they had experienced in Main St. Mania. “We aren’t an app company; we aren’t a technology company, but we have some products and services that are technology pieces,” Dew notes. For now, Questalot is focused locally, and Gamemaster has been active with various companies and organizations, such as GHS and the Parks and Recreation District, using the apps in fundraising events and park-hop style challenges, creating a “fun and saturating experience, wherever you are.” Eventually, Questalot will go to a national level, with quests and activities planned for cities and towns around the country. According to Dew, Gamemaster is primed

for growth. And while originally, the idea was to have Dew and Gamemaster be separate entities, but it became clear that there would need to be a fusion, because of the opportunities that Dew’s personality can open for the company. “When people want to work with you and enjoy you, there is a lot of opportunity there,” he says. Meanwhile, life continues to be a balancing act, as it is for many entrepreneurs. From being “JDew” in the Upstate community, to running Gamemaster, Dew stays busy. And as a new husband and soon-to-be father, life has its challenges along with all its opportunities. “I see myself on five or six levels of humanity,” says Dew. “I want to live a complete life, not just for business or money.”

Q2 2014 // Business Black Box


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You may know him as “JDew,” the energetic entertainment face of the Greenville Drive. But for Jeremiah Dew, entertainment has turned into entrepreneurship. With a new business venture under his belt, he’s ready to take the nation by storm.



ere in the Upstate—more specifically, in Greenville County and in Oconee ounty—the local governments are in the process of determining whether or not to place a penny sales tax increase on the November ballot. If they do, it will be up to you, as a voter, taxpayer and citizen to decide whether to support or defeat it. Down in the Midlands, they also have the same thing under consideration in Lexington County. You certainly don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that this is a tough sell in communities where less is always seen as more, especially when it comes to government and taxes—a concept I tend to agree with. That said, voters should have the opportunity to cast our votes on this topic. I could be wrong, but I really don’t think the issue is as much about a “penny” as it is the citizen’s cynicism on how this revenue will actually, eventually be spent. We desperately need improved roads and infrastructure. Many would like more parks, greenways, sidewalks, etc. (For the record: I too, would like more parks, greenways, and sidewalks. I just want improved roads and infrastructure more.) Here is a suggestion to those on county council and the 19 citizens who are deciding what will be potentially funded. If you sincerely want it to pass, just make it about roads: R-O-A-D-S. Not new water parks. Not scenic areas. Not even greenways, bike trails or even sidewalks though many


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).


want them and I truly see their value. Make it about pavement. Make it about asphalt. Make it completely, clearly, undeniably and unalterably, about roads. And, establish a sunset clause so the tax goes away in eight to 10 years. Why? Here’s some background: the State of South Carolina has over 40,000 miles of pavement to maintain. It affects safety, economic development, particularly tourism, and quality of life. It affects your commute, a company’s ability to move product or the damage to a personal vehicle that hits that pothole too many times. Today, the State Department of Transportation claims it does not have the needed funding to adequately meet the demand, and there are many questions exist on just how efficient that agency really is. The DOT does have some funding problems. It has also had accounting problems, spending problems and major perception problems—not good when the people who control your budget—the General Assembly—have those kind of legitimate concerns. One suggestion has been to allow them to fix some of the worse areas, and then turn over the responsibility of the maintenance to local governments. That’s a very tough one for rural counties and for some here as well. In any case, it’s important for the voters to look at a slate of projects and cast a vote. Many will say, “No, we just need to raise the gas tax.” But frankly, that’s not going to happen—at least, not right now. The DOT’s issues and the opposition from the governor mean that dog won’t hunt. The General Assembly does not have the political will to do it, nor the votes to override a threatened gubernatorial veto. It is that simple. In Greenville County, we have many wants and needs. Right now, we must focus on needs, and not wants. We need improved, updated and safe roads. Of course, this won’t happen if reading this column is the extent of your involvement. Call your county officials; contact those who are creating the list that will be addressed. Then, make sure they designate projects that will a) benefit the greater good, b) pass the smell test and c) that they put it on the ballot. Make it about roads and only roads... and let the voters decide.

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

Dig Deeper. New in 2014, the Cheat Sheet offers industry-specific information, every month, in an easy-to-read and easy-to-print format.


if you watched the job openings posted online, you’d find hundreds of available jobs in South Carolina. A random search in the last 24 hours of writing this showed more than 207 jobs in the Greenville area, 213 in the vicinity of Columbia and 183 in the Charleston area, the majority of which are in math and science related fields, such as manufacturing, health care and technology. Job announcements made by Governor Nikki Haley’s office during the month of February also indicate a positive employment climate: 500 jobs and a $1 billion investment in Spartanburg County by Toray Industries; 450 jobs and a $2.1 million investment in Greenville County by Esurance; 1,100 jobs and a $135 million medical complex in Summerville by Palmetto Primary Care Physicians. The numbers lead you to believe that we are well on our way to recovering from the recession we’ve suffered in recent years. However, though statistics point to improvement, the fact remains that we’re still not where we should be.

Carolina, but the state is trying to change all that with its ReadySC program. The program is a division of the S.C. Technical College System. Each of the state’s 16 technical colleges has a ReadySC office and a representative to work with the local economic development community, and many of the jobs announced this month will be filled by people trained through the program.

South Carolina had an estimated 142,400 unemployed citizens in December 2013. That equates to a 6.6 percent unemployment rate—the first time since January 2001 that the state’s rate has dropped below the national average. When the unemployment statistics for December 2013 were announced, Cheryl M. Stanton, executive director of SC Department of Employment and Workforce, released a statement saying, “Such outstanding news lets us know South Carolina is on the right track and provides even further inspiration for DEW as we focus on matching and training workers to fit the statewide business community’s workforce needs, which will further reduce the number of unemployed.”

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So, if there are so many jobs available, why are our unemployment numbers staying so high? Unfortunately, our unemployed do not have the skills all these potential employers are looking for, especially in fields that require in depth training and education, such as advanced manufacturing and technology. Worse, it’s hard to gauge exactly how many jobs are going unfilled each year. When questioned, neither the S.C. Department of Commerce nor DEW had an answer for how many of these jobs remain open, although some statistics suggest that 52 percent of employers cannot the find skilled workers they need.

“We come to the table when the economic development representatives are trying to recruit those companies,” explains Johanna Gunter, ReadySC project manager for Greenville County. “We are an incentive for companies to do business in South Carolina. ... We will help them develop a training plan and a recruitment plan to get (new hires) up to speed and on board as quickly as possible.” Last year, the program trained nearly 4,700 individuals for more than 80 companies across the state. To qualify for assistance from ReadySC, a company must: (a) provide permanent and full time jobs; (b) pay competitive wages; (c) provide a benefits package that includes health insurance; and (d) create a sufficient number of jobs that would allow the program to provide training in a cost effective manner. The resurgence of a growing manufacturing industry in South Carolina has also led to a growth in number of students at Greenville Technical College. Cynthia Eason, vice president for corporate and economic development, says the school’s technical division is the fastest growing of the school’s four divisions right now. “I think people are understanding that manufacturing is alive and well, and there’s a bit of a manufacturing renaissance in the United States,” Eason says.

Carol Serieno, human resource generalist at Stueken LLC in Fountain Inn, says they have had to hire employees outside of the state in the past. “We have had to look out of state because our deep draw process is so unique,” she explains.The deep draw process involves creating precise shapes from copper, stainless steel, aluminum and other exotic materials to be used in the automotive, electronics and consumer goods markets. Similar companies, she says, are hard to find in South Carolina, and so by looking for potential employees with the acquired skill set Stueken needs, “their learning curve is much shorter and we can get them up to speed and they can be productive a lot faster.” It is not atypical of what you might hear from many of our manufacturers and high-growth companies in across South


Q2 2014 // Business Black Box

At Clemson University, the Center for Workforce Development has also been encouraging students to enter the manufacturing field, working in conjunction with the state’s technical colleges to help create different pathways for students, says Director of Operations Kris Frady.

To begin with, CUCWD works in a consulting capacity with all 16 technical colleges to help them create online courses. The center also creates other digital learning tools, including e-text, i-books and virtual reality training. They have also helped create a pathway for students to obtain stackable certificates, meaning they can attend classes at either their local career center or technical college, earn a certificate in their field of study, and be employable upon earning that certificate. “We’re concerned with all of the exit ramps,” Frady says. “It’s very important for them to have employable skills no matter where they choose to exit.” The center also holds forums in high schools across the state, educating teachers and guidance counselors on advanced manufacturing and how it can be a sustainable work option for students. “We really see ourselves as a group that tries to bring together a lot of different initiatives across the state of South Carolina in the workforce development capacity to support advance manufacturing,” Frady says. “When we’ve done analysis for South Carolina and what the greatest need is and what we can do as far as bringing in more industry and more foreign direct investment in South Carolina, being able to fill those jobs right now seems to be the most impactful based on our research.” Jason Premo, co-owner and CEO at ADEX Machining Technologies, says he has struggled in the past filling job openings at his company. Part of the problem, he adds, is too many people are retiring and there aren’t enough students expressing an interest in manufacturing—a trend he is trying to change. “It’s still hard to find people because there’s a supply shortage,” he says. “You’ve got the baby boomers retiring and so few people entering the market, you’ve got companies like mine that continue to grow, so we’re just consuming all of the existing supply. That’s why I’m focused more on developing our pipeline. I think the solution for our future is going to be even stronger partnerships with our technical colleges.” ADEX has a very successful apprenticeship program, in which current technical college students can work either part-time or full-time at ADEX while obtaining their degree. This twoyear program allows them to obtain the necessary training to ensure that by the time they graduate they are already considered experienced employees. Premo says most of them start out at $15 or $16 an hour plus benefits, so it’s possible for an individual who has not obtained their degree yet to make more than $30,000 a year. But another problem, Premo notes, is the budget cuts the state legislature continues to hand down to technical colleges each year.

“We have all this growth happening, but the resources that are critical in providing that supply of skilled workforce aren’t getting enough attention and love, so to say, from our budget,” he says. “It definitely starts with awareness, but we also need to put our money where our mouth is. We talk about the knowledge economy, but what do we do each year? We cut the budget.”

Even Skjervold is an MBAe student at Clemson University. Originally from Norway, Skjervold has been in South Carolina since 2009, when he first began attending Clemson to obtain a bachelor’s degree in bio-engineering. Two years ago, a class project led to the launch of SouthYeast Labs, which he co-founded with David Thornton. SouthYeast Labs uses locally sourced yeast to create new brews of beer. The project was presented at the American Society of Brew Chemists and they have shared their unique strains of yeast with several local breweries. Skjervold would like to continue to pursue growing SouthYeast Labs and staying in the state after graduation, but without a work visa, he will have to return to Norway.

he says. He’s still trying to find a lawyer to help him explore his options, and has identified two paths, but has hit roadblocks with each. The first option would be to find a company that would hire him and sponsor his work visa. However, he says the last time he examined that option in depth, “the market was pretty bad and the feedback was basically that no company wants to spend extra money on a foreign employee right now.” His second option is what is called the H-2B visa, a visa designed especially for entrepreneurs. Sounds perfect, right? Not so fast; this visa option stipulates the entrepreneur must secure an investment of $500,000 and must produce 10 jobs within two years.

“If it didn’t have the monetary requirement, I would be a great candidate because we’re poised to start commercial production already and are planning some expansion,” he says. “But we don’t need all that money to do that, which makes it even stranger to insist that we need half a million dollars to do something we can do with a lot less.” Melissa Azallion, a shareholder with McNair Law Firm in Hilton Head, specializes in labor and immigration law. She notes that obtaining a temporary work visa can be a daunting task, in part because there are a limited number of visas each year. The H-1B visa is commonly used by companies to hire individuals with a college degree. There are only 65,000 available nationwide each year, with an additional 20,000 available for those with a master’s degree. Azallion says this may seem like a large amount, but consider this—when the filing period opens on April 1, the government sometimes receives in excess of the total number of available visas. If this happens, Azallion explains, the government will then use a lottery-style system to award the visas. “So now I’m the student. I have this degree; I get a job offer and they say, okay, let’s file a H-1B petition for you. If my (lottery) number doesn’t get selected, then I really don’t have a work visa option to stay in the U.S. There might be a strategy to work around it, but oftentimes that is challenging.”

Once awarded, the H-1B is valid for three years and can then be extended for an additional three years. Premo says ADEX encountered a roadblock with an employee from Bulgaria who had undergone highly advanced training for his career with the company. The employee spent several years trying to obtain citizenship and almost ran out of time. “There were several promotional opportunities that we could not give him because some of our work is defense-related and you have to be an American citizen to work in that area,” Premo explains. “It was a real problem. This was a very well educated, strong contributor and it takes that long for a path to citizenship for a highly-trained person? We need these people; we need to put them on the fast track” to citizenship. Serieno of Stueken says she has encountered visa problems with employees at some of her previous employers and credits those problems to the overwhelming workload encountered by the visa offices. She recalls one incident where the employee’s visa needed to be renewed, so the employee began the process of renewal several months in advance, but they could not get it renewed before its expiration date and was forced to leave the country. “It’s sad because they’re trying do everything on the up and up, everything in advance with all their t’s crossed and i’s dotted, but there’s just such a backlog that their visa expires,” she says.

Eason says the job outlook for South Carolina right now looks positive as we continue to receive more announcements about current companies expanding and new companies choosing South Carolina for relocation. But as these new jobs open up, it is important to remember that you should be trying to keep your mind expanding, too. Programs like ReadySC are out there, willing and able to help. “I think that we are in this period of time where there are open positions—particularly technical positions—that require a greater degree of skill than has been required in the past because jobs have become more technically sophisticated,” Eason says. “A manufacturing plant today is not what it was 10 years people who have been displaced from jobs need some retooling before they can get back into the workforce, and that’s what (our programs) are all about.”

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LILLIAN BROCK FLEMMING Vice Mayor Pro Tem, Council Member

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Q2 2014 // Business Black Box Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios

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[1] What was your first job? My very first job was babysitting when I was in high school. My first professional job was teaching high school mathematics after college.

[2] What are some of the skills you developed

early, that you’ve found to be beneficial or essential to your practices now? My parents taught me to communicate effectively and to be a team player.

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

I keep in touch with the people that I represent and spend time with my family. These strategies keep me in check.

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

My most difficult responsibility is representing the needs of the people in District 2 on City Council. To most effect, I must attend community meetings each week and special community events.

[5] What do you struggle with? I struggle with having sufficient time with my family and relaxing.

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

Continue to make a difference in the community in any way possible.

[7] What made you first decide to run for a


[9] What is your vision for the future of your district, and of Greenville?

My vision for the future of the City Council District which I serve is to increase homeownership for more current residents, increase jobs by attracting more small businesses, and stabilize the housing of the elderly so they can be safe and comfortable.

[10] You have an extensive background in

teaching and in education. What do you see as the major challenges and opportunities for education of the future? Major challenges for education currently are leveling the playing field for all children by the elimination of labeling, provision of adequate training and technology for teachers, and the elimination of using public education as a political pawn. Education must be provided for all children and politicians need to stop creating systems that increase the segregation of races and those in poverty. There are major educational opportunities for more males and minorities to become classroom teachers.

[11] You hold a number of board positions and have earned many awards. What is your favorite, and why?

I cannot choose which is my favorite board or community involvement. Serving on all of the boards and being involved are my life. I feel very passionate about all of the things that I do because, in the last few years the divide between those who have and those who are poor has grown. Too many low-income people in our community are not aware of the services that are available to assist them, so I want to work with any organization that will provide the services to help make connections and spread the word. Better access to public transportation would improve many opportunities for those in our community. For more from Business Black Box visit

political office?

I first decided to seek political office when our community was facing devastation by the then proposed highway—Pete Hollis— removing hundreds of residents. I felt the need to speak out and ran to change the direction and intent of this highway.

[8] Many women do not run for political office because of their perception of time, cost and others’ reaction to them. What would you say to them?

I always encourage women who are very active and volunteer that they can use their skills to serve in political office. I am very candid in relaying the time that it takes and the cost. But women overwhelmingly underestimate their talents and ability to serve as an elected official. This is my main focus—to help women to see that our country needs them and they have the qualities and organizational skills that can make a difference in our lives.

Q2 2014 // Business Black Box




f you want to get lost following a fascinating thread of research, type “the internet of things” into Google and buckle your seatbelt. Wikipedia tells us that “The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure.” In other words, our physical things are being connected to software—and the internet—in ways that we have never before seen. Many people call this a hybrid technology, meaning that there are two distinct components: a tangible, physical component and an equally important software component. This concept isn’t new. We’ve hooked physical devices up to computers for decades to glean the valuable data that they are producing. There are a few monumental shifts happening right now in hybrid tech, though, that are changing the way we think about the utility of physical objects. The first major shift is in accessibility. In years past, complex devices and data processing were prohibitively expensive, available only to large corporations or academic institutions. Today, the cost of both elements has decreased to the point where an average person can purchase and use hybrid tech in their everyday life. Take Nest, for example. Their first product was a ‘smart thermostat’ that saves you time and money by collecting climate data in your home, learning your schedule and allowing you to ‘train’ it


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.


to adjust settings for maximum efficiency. While the actual device is impressive, their mobile phone applications—the equally important software components—allow you instant access to the data Nest is collecting and give you the opportunity to ‘teach’ the device over the internet directly from your phone (from anywhere). The company’s recent acquisition by Google is proof that hybrid tech is at the beginning of a potentially gigantic wave. Other hybrid tech goes beyond re-imagining existing systems and creates new paradigms all together. Ractiv, a Shanghai-based company that came through The Iron Yard’s Accelerator program in 2013, is re-inventing the way we interact with computers.Their product, Haptix, is a hardwaresoftware combination that allows you to use any surface as an input for digital devices. How does it work? A small object the size of a deck of cards contains ultra-sensitive cameras that track motion. The software that interacts with the cameras uses a complex algorithm to interpret that motion and translate it into input signals. Guess what? Your trackpad just became any surface that the device is on. Their product has the potential to affect multiple industries in significant ways. Interacting with ATMs, game consoles and even our own personal computers will no longer be tied to buttons, controllers or track pads. Even more significantly, though, professionals like surgeons and mechanics who use their hands will be able to use digital devices without being tethered to traditional input tools. The wave of hybrid tech is coming. What will be connected next?

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THE PITCH: When I was laid off in 2009, finding a job was not easy. So I thought back to when I lived as a missionary in Thailand, where I became a wireless router hobbyist by necessity. (There are specific challenges to accessing the internet when you live abroad and there was no out-of-the-box solution.) With the theory that expatriates would like a network router solution without the “hobby” I pulled together $500 to buy a few routers, modified them like I had done in Thailand, and sold them online. Sabai Technology was born, growing along the way to a current sales rate of over a million dollars a year. Early on, I decided to focus specifically on the VPN market. Much like business VPN, the consumer solution leverages IP relocation technology to encrypt and geo-relocate a user’s traffic. With a consumer VPN service and a Sabai Technology VPN Router, an expatriate anywhere in the world can access websites and media on their network devices that would be otherwise unavailable in their market. Sabai Technology has focused on creating the best VPN Router experience possible. Fast, efficient shipping, an easy-to-use product, and outstanding technical support are the cornerstones of Sabai Technology’s success. Our VPN Routers now run a customized firmware, with patent pending technology, created by our in-house developers. We have shipped roughly 15,000 routers to over 120 countries. The VPN industry continues to see large growth year-over-year as the millions of expatriates, deployed military, and state department employees around the world discover the benefits of this specialized network setup. Photo by Wayne Culpepper/FishEye Studios




*Effectual Entrepreneurship was researched and coined by Dr. Saras Sarasvathy at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.


Managing Director Upstate Carolina Angel Network

As an entrepreneur, a challenge is the necessity of creating solutions. Sabai Technologies created a VPN niche market that seems to have scale throughout the globe. The customized firmware and patent pending technology is attractive and built by their team of VPN router Ninjas. Understanding the technology’s security attributes would be my first question, seeing the product is in the hands of the brave men and women that serve our country. In reviewing the pitch from Sabai technologies, my question is: With more and more military seeking secured wireless handheld devices, can this technology be implemented into hand-held devices? Essentially every mobile device will be an active node in the Machine-to-Machine world of the future. Connecting business, people and society with vehicles, education, healthcare (HIPPA and patient data is a huge issue), transportation systems and buildings will be how non-humans communicate in the near future. With these billions of connections, a structured and secure network will be more essential to communicating our movement through life. Sabai utilizes an open source platform based on Tomato which I am sure it kept secret and non “hackable” by the VPN routing Ninjas. The Sabai OS does have some nice features in distributing bandwidth in their “port forwarding” feature for that data glut gamer in the virtual world. Understanding their secret sauce with their patent pending would be an area to investigate. The current potential with these nano-network black box ninjas seem to be on an upward path, but I would still like to investigate a scaled version of software/hardware within secure mobile devices and other more massive volume secured connection opportunities.

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Let me begin by offering hearty kudos to William for the success of Sabai Technologies. His story reads like a classic entrepreneurial tale: forced to make a job when he couldn’t find one, William combined limited resources with know-how and pluck to test an idea that the marketplace told him it liked…and he bootstrapped his business to sustainability. William fits the profile of an “effectual”* entrepreneur—one who learns to make the future happen in the face of uncertainty, rather than attempting to predict the future and waiting for the perfect circumstances to get started. From an investor’s point of view, effectual entrepreneurs are the kind we really like to back since we know they will be resourceful, frugal and resilient. As for the pitch itself, this version offers an effective, concise summary. It provides a general outline of the market pain point, describes a simple solution, hints at broader market trends and defines the core business model and value proposition. However, if this were a formal pitch to an investor group, there are several additional items we would want to understand in more detail, including the unit economics, the addressable market size, competing solutions, short and long term capital needs, and the company’s preferred exit strategy. Again, congratulations to William and Sabai. We look forward to reading about their continued success.

CRAIG KINLEY Principal WiProwess, LLC

Q2 2014 // Business Black Box




his past February, the crisis in Ukraine came to a head, resulting in the annexation of Crimea by Russia. This distant crisis doesn’t seem to affect us here, so why should we be concerned? The answer is that we have both economic and moral grounds to prevent this dangerous act from dismantling international order.


An Economic Balancing Act The economic argument is crystal clear. Political instability equals economic instability, especially in areas like Ukraine where energy trade is at stake. In this case the economic issues are particularly complex. Any reaction by the west to impose economic hardship on Russian interests has the potential of equally serious economic consequences on western economies. For example, the European Union is Russia’s biggest customer for oil and gas, and its largest overall trade partner. America companies are the largest foreign investors in Russia.The fact is, our economies are intertwined and any retaliation by the west will have repercussions on trade, investor confidence and the world’s fragile economies in general. A Dangerous Precedent While the economic consequences of this crisis are reason enough to worry, the moral justifications used by Russia are more so.Yes, the Crimean Peninsula has a majority of ethnic Russians, and yes, it was originally part of the Russian Empire. However, historical context and ethnic composition are no justification for a blatant land grab.

CRIMEA: WHY YOU SHOULD CARE About the author...

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


This was a pure power-play on the part of Vladimir Putin, a man who never accepted the breakup of the Soviet Union. He has used criminal networks, gangs and ethnic divisions to take power in a region of a sovereign European nation. This is not only an dangerous situation in itself, it sets a precedent for future political aggression from other world powers that we cannot ignore. What if China were to take control of the Senkaku (Diaoyudao) islands, or worse, if politics in Taiwan provoked a similar situation to Crimea? What To Do? While Europe and the United States have imposed weak sanctions, everyone knows this has been purely symbolic. What the U.S. and its allies really need to do is pull back on our co-dependent relationships with the Russian economy. We need to consider opening up exports of U.S. natural gas to Europe. This might raise energy prices in the U.S. in the short term, but will it will boost American energy production and independence in the long term, and it will hit Russia where it hurts most. We should continue to work through multinational institutions to apply pressure on Russia. The G7 nations should follow through with the threats to dissolve the G8, expelling Russia from the elite club. NATO needs to exercise its power and underline that our economic and political voices carry a threat of real teeth, in case Mr. Putin has any doubts. The U.S. needs to use its influence around the world to put Russia on notice, and to make the cost of this act be felt far and wide. Not So Simple The U.S. and the European Union have been accused of fomenting the crisis in Ukraine, triggering Russia’s reaction in Crimea. Crimea is of great strategic interest to the Russian Federation. It is easy see things only from the western perspective, but the reality is that many Russians, and several other nations, feel they were justified in their actions. What we must do is make it clear that further incursion into Ukraine will not go without consequences. We cannot fail in that task. If we do, the consequences may well be much graver than what has happened to date. It was not so long ago that other charismatic men came to power and managed to justify aggression to their populations based on ethnic and historical facts. Even if the economic cost is high, we have to make it clear that we will not stand for a repeat act on the part of Vladimir Putin.

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ay poca o ninguna duda entre los líderes de negocios en el norte del estado que el consumidor hispano ha crecido dramáticamente en importancia en los últimos diez años. Los datos recientes de la Oficina del Censo de EE.UU. afirma que la población hispana en Carolina del Sur ha aumentado en un asombroso 147% en los últimos diez años. Del mismo modo, las empresas hispanas y el espíritu empresarial en la comunidad hispana ha crecido de forma espectacular. Los datos publicados por la firma de investigación Geoscape muestra que las empresas hispanas en el sureste han aumentado un promedio de 56% en los últimos seis años. Si bien este crecimiento es muy emocionante, especialmente para una organización como la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de Carolina del Sur, también hemos identificado una serie de factores que pueden limitar a esta nueva ola de emprendedores. Las empresas hispanas en Carolina del Sur son únicas. Nuestra comunidad empresarial muestra muchas de las características que históricamente han creado una comunidad de negocios exitosa. Los empresarios hispanos en Carolina del Sur son apasionados y están comprometidos a mantener a sus familias. Muchos de nosotros hemos tenido éxito en otras carreras. Nos enfrentamos a los desafíos, y somos rápidos para aprender nuevos conceptos y habilidades que nos ayudarán a que nuestros negocios funcionen de una manera más eficiente.


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.


Y a pesar de que todos estos rasgos están a nuestro favor, también reconocemos que tenemos mucho que aprender acerca de como lograr el éxito en el entorno de los negocios estadounidenses. Una de las necesidades más grande que la Cámara de Comercio Hispana ha identificado en nuestra comunidad empresarial hispana es la de aprender habilidades vitales y necesarias para operar con éxito un negocio.Vemos esta necesidad de conocimiento como el servicio más importante que la Cámara Hispana de Carolina del Sur puede ofrecer a nuestra comunidad de negocios. Muchos de nuestros empresarios hispanos necesitan orientación de cómo se organiza una empresa o saber cuales son los beneficios de la formación de un negocio como lo es una sociedad de responsabilidad limitada, por ejemplo. Otros necesitan orientación sobre cómo diseñar adecuadamente un presupuesto y operar bajo ese presupuesto. Otra área es la de cómo definir correctamente a cual mercado voy a servir, un principio que es fundamental para el éxito de cualquier negocio. Al nosotros no buscar este conocimiento en mercadeo, administración, finanzas, contabilidad y otros temas de negocio, estamos en desventaja desde el primer día que nuestro negocio comienza . Como ejemplo práctico, vamos a pensar en el factor del acceso a capital para su negocio. Todos hemos experimentado esto: tenemos un gran negocio para iniciar o ampliar, pero nadie quiere invertir o prestarnos el dinero necesario para que podamos alcanzar nuestra meta. Muchas veces, la razón principal para que los inversionistas privados no consideren una oportunidad de préstamo o inversión es simplemente porque ven un negocio que no ha tenido experiencia o una formación adecuada. Como propietario de un negocio, si no se le puede demostrar al inversionista o al prestamista que usted es y seguirá teniendo éxito, esa oportunidad se desvanece. Los individuos y las organizaciones que tienen dinero para prestar o invertir están buscando a dueños de negocios que conocen como manejar adecuadamente su dinero y como se está invirtiendo el mismo. En respuesta a esta necesidad, la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de Carolina del Sur desarrolló los talleres de Desarrollo Empresarial (EES por sus siglas en inglés). El EES ofrece la educación técnica a los empresarios hispanos y dueños de negocios en español. Mejor aún, ofrecemos nuestros seminarios de forma gratuita a cualquier empresario hispano o persona que quiere comenzar un negocio. Nuestro objetivo con el EES es proporcionar a nuestra comunidad con los conocimientos y habilidades necesarias para el éxito en el entorno empresarial estadounidense. Animamos a todos los empresarios hispanos que están comprometidos y que desean tener éxito en sus negocios a unirse a nosotros en uno de nuestros talleres. Para obtener más información o para inscribirse en uno de nuestros seminarios, llámenos al (864)643-7261. For more on this topic visit


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his past February, the crisis in Ukraine came to a head, resulting in the annexation of t’s almost impossible to imagineCrimea not by Russia. This distant crisis doesn’t seem to affect us here, so why should we be having a pen or pencil “just laying concerned? The answer is that we have both economic and moral grounds to prevent this around.” Most of us have an arsenal in dangerous act from dismantling international order. the coffee cups on our desks. But what if An Economic Balancing Act they were a scarcity? The economic argument is crystal clear. Political instability equals economic instability, especially in Grace where energy trade is at stake. In this case the economic issues are particularly complex. G L OThat’s B A just L the situation that areasMary like Ukraine Wallace wanted to address. founder AnyAs reaction by the west to impose economic hardship on Russian interests has the potential of equally of Writefully His, a stationary serious company economic consequences on western economies. For example, the European Union is Russia’s biggest birthed out of The Space at customer Wofford for oil and gas, and its largest overall trade partner. America companies are the largest foreign College’s programs, Wallace had investors becomein Russia.The fact is, our economies are intertwined and any retaliation by the west will have repercussions aware of the lack of simple supplies for on trade, investor confidence and the world’s fragile economies in general. schools in poverty-stricken A areas. Dangerous Precedent While studying in the South of France, While the economic consequences of this crisis are reason enough to worry, the moral justifications Russia are more so.Yes, the Crimean Peninsula has a majority of ethnic Russians, and yes, it Wallace picked up the bookused Startby Something was originallyand part of the Russian Empire. However, historical context and ethnic composition are no That Matters by Blake Mycoskie, justification for through that, began to lay the foundationsa blatant land grab. for her business. By the end of her senior year, Wallace was able to jump full time into the business, founding Writefully His and focusing primarily on on the growth of the business. (Using revenues from stationary sales, she partnered with a school in Uganda to provide writing supplies.)As business has was ahas pure power-play on the part of Vladimir Putin, a man who never accepted the breakgrown over the past year, the This business up of the Kenya, Soviet Union. He has used criminal networks, gangs and ethnic divisions to take power in partnered with schools in Rwanda, region a sovereign European nation. and Tanzania, in addition toathe firstofschool About the author... This is not only an dangerous situation in itself, it sets a precedent for future political aggression in Uganda. from other world December ofhis 2013, Wallace got word powers that we cannot ignore. What if China were to take control of the Senkaku MarcBy Bolick replanted (Diaoyudao) islands, or worse, if politics in Taiwan provoked a similar situation to Crimea? native rootsfirst in Greenville that the school in Uganda was fully What To Do? after living for term—that stocked forin Europe their next was her While Europe and the United States have imposed weak sanctions, everyone knows this has been 13 years. He has worked first major success. purely symbolic. What the U.S. and its allies really need to do is pull back on our co-dependent in all aspects of product “When I went in June, I saw they relationships with the Russian economy. and service creation for treasured the paper and pencils,” Wallace companies ranging from We need to consider opening up exports of U.S. natural gas to Europe. This might raise energy says, 100 a realization that solidified herinpurpose. Fortune multi-nationals prices the U.S. in the short term, but will it will boost American energy production and indepenCurrently, Writefully His is on term, and it will hit Russia where it hurts most. to mid-sized European dencefocused in the long bothtogrowing business withWe tradeshows firms startups.the Marc is should continue to work through multinational institutions to apply pressure on Russia. The and boutique shops, alsonations wantsshould to follow through with the threats to dissolve the G8, expelling Russia from the managing partner in the U.S. but G7 DesignThinkers Group,ofanthe schools expand the scope she isNATO able needs to exercise its power and underline that our economic and political voices elite club. international design-driven threatthe of real teeth, in case Mr. Putin has any doubts. The U.S. needs to use its influence to reach. For Wallace, it’s notcarry just aabout innovation He isconnecting around world to put Russia on notice, and to make the cost of this act be felt far and wide. stationary,agency. but about tothe a larger passionate about the an entire generation cause that canusing impact Not So Simple power of service design of leaders. The U.S. and the European Union have been accused of fomenting the crisis in Ukraine, triggerthinking to help companies “For me it matters, because we reaction are ing Russia’s in Crimea. Crimea is of great strategic interest to the Russian Federation. It is build their capacity to easy see things only from the western perspective, but the reality is that many Russians, and several providing the utensils for the children who work collaboratively, to other feel they were justified in their actions. are going grow up and be the nations, leaders of innovate and toto solve vexing What we must do is make it clear that further incursion into Ukraine will not go without consetheir country,” she says. problems.. quences. We cannot fail in that task. If we do, the consequences may well be much graver than what has happened to date. It was not so long ago that other charismatic men came to power and managed to justify aggression to their populations based on ethnic and historical facts. Even if the economic cost is high, we have to make it clear that we will not stand for a repeat act on the part of Vladimir Putin.

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Q2 2014 // Business Black Box

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