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Business Black Box July/August

U.S. $5.95


Business Black Box

July/August 2009



July/August 2009

Business Black Box

Business Black Box

July/August 2009



July/August 2009

Business Black Box


Business Black Box

July/August 2009


JULY09 every issue




Status Check: Power Tools

11 Questions with Darrell Parker


Business Black Box

Big Picture: Shipwreck Cove, Duncan, S.C.


7 10 12 15 48 66 96

Layers of thought Letters EDITOR’S LETTER RANDOM & RELEVANT Measure of Success Speed Pitch What matters

July/August 2009

101 Days: Ravi Sastry,

the think tank


36 47 58 65 74 80 88 91

Ceos & Leaders global small bIZ law Kid biz politics hR sales

In Brief: Tribes



The fascinating dynamic we found – as our writers interviewed leaders and subsequently assembled the written version of this story – was how the Upstate is emerging as one of the few regions in the country who’ve figured out how to balance 10-plus counties , balancing their individuality with the opportunities that come with uniting to market itself as a regional force. communicate it in a compelling enough way, we eliminated ideas like showing a map with dots and lines converging, and spent time developing a dramatic “get-your-attention” image that conveyed the dramatic “get-yourattention” work the region’s leaders have done. Special thanks to Ben Derhammer (our model) for being a great sport!

July/August 2009

Business Black Box

Communicating the essence of any great idea, story, or message in a single image can be challenging. Whether you’re an entrepreneur selling a product or a designer executing a strategy, both face the same problem: creating something that embodies the heart of the message quickly, succinctly, and in a memorable way that makes people sit up and take notice.


Why Business Black Box? 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.

Business Black Box

That’s the mission of our magazine, our connect events, and our interactive platform.Newsofbusinesses 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.

EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Editorial Assistant Contributing Writers


Jordana Megonigal Andrew Brandenburg Julie Godshall Brown Andy Coburn Noelle Coyle John DeWorken Lydia Dishman Todd Korahais Heather Magruder Missy Nowack Ravi Sastry Tony Snipes Alison Storm Dianne Stewart

DESIGN Creative Director Art Director Graphic Design Traffic Coordinator Photography

Chad McMillan Lisa Worsham Chris Heuvel Cullie Marsh Conrad LaRosa Ben Steenbeek

VIDEO & INTERACTIVE Interactive Video Services Director Video Assistants

Conrad LaRosa Matt Cuyar Jonathan Shuler Judah Cofer Ben Steenbeek

BUSINESS Publisher Account Executive


Geoff Wasserman Rachel Adkins Laney Frick Elizabeth Sheets Danny Shelton Melissa Sample



Business Black Box

July/August 2009



b o x letterS “Finally got a chance to see the first print edition of Black Box. Congrats to the whole gang. Pretty cool stuff.”

“Congratulations on the first issue of Business Black Box! I know how excited you are to have finally “delivered” it. You have definitely created something that is edgy, flaming hot and not the “same old cliche.” I would have to say my first reaction was that it threw me off-center, and made me “shake the cob-webs” out of my head. I have picked it up several times today & continue to notice elements not noticed before that contribute to its edginess. Bold! Congratulations!”

Frank Allgood, Managing editor, GSA Business Journal (via Facebook)

Brenda Laakso, Vice President, Entrepreneurship and Small Business Economic Development, Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce

Feedback on our first issue... I would have to say my first reaction was that it threw me off-center, and made me ‘shake the cob-webs’ out of my Let us know... head.

I’m looking for the first chance to grab a copy of Business Black Box, looks fantastic online, great content. I like it. Onward!

I picked up a copy of your magazine yesterday at Liquid Highway, and enjoyed the content. The idea for a kids blog is fascinating. What a sneaky way to get a kid to think, read, write, and learn.

Joel Wilkinson, Owner, Joel Wilkinson Studios

Just got your first issue and I am impressed. I have long advocated for a business-only magazine in Greenville that focuses on education and it appears that’s exactly what you’re going to do.

Congratulations on the birth of Black Box – the magazine I just finished the first issue of is visually exciting and the the magazine – Black Box. content is very interesting. It I was very impressed. You is obviously well supported featured some pretty sharp by your advertisers, so it people, and it’s a testament to looks as though you’re off to your skill that you were able a great start. to get interviews with them. Fritzie Mumford, Marketing Coordinator, Wyche Burgess The writing was crisp, the Freeman & Parham graphics leading edge. I trust this launch will prove I enjoyed reading my copy to be as successful down the of Business Black Box this road as the first issue seems morning. Very impressive, to be. especially for the first issue. Reid Lehman, President/CEO,

Just got my first issue of Black Box – outstanding job! Quite a few familiar faces in there and even the advertisements are beautiful. Congratulations! Michael Bolick, President and CEO, Selah Technologies, LLC


Erika Spinelli, Owner, SC COM (via Facebook)

July/August 2009

Business Black Box

Thanks to Black Box for featuring so many great business WOMEN in its inaugural issue. Check it out...

Julie Jones Horton, Governmental Relations Manager, City of Greenville (via Facebook)

John Kimbrell, President/CEO, Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce

Dan Bracken, Owner, The Auction Co & Real Estate, Inc. (via Facebook)

David A. Rich, CSP, Certified Speaking Professional

Just received your new magazine in my mailbox at work. Not only is it visually appealing, but the content is excellent. Congratulations on your ‘new baby.’

I wanted to drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed the Business Black Box publication that you did (in spite of the 11 questions piece). It is a nice addition to the Upstate. Looking forward to a long lasting working relationship with you. Keep up the good work!!

- Brenda Laakso, Vice President, Entrepreneurship and Small Business Economic Development, Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce

Miracle Hill Ministries

Peter Waldschmidt, CEO, Gnoso, Inc.

I read it cover to cover and I’m very impressed with the quality of the articles, the layout, and the photography. You guys have done a great job. Thanks again for including Zipit in your first issue.

I got my copy of BB yesterday, thanks. It is really top notch. Haven’t seen anything produced here that looks near this good. This creativity could easily compete nationally.

Frank Greer, CEO & President, Zipit Wireless, Inc.

David Setzer, CEO, Virtual Connect Technologies

Do you have ideas you’d like to see in Business Black Box? Send us your input through our website, by email to, or by mail to 1200 Woodruff Rd., Suite A8, Greenville, SC 29607.


Business Black Box

July/August 2009


b o x EDITor’s letter

“ A


I wanted to be an editor or a journalist–I wasn’t really interested in being an entrepreneur–but I soon found I had to become an entrepreneur in order to keep my magazine going. – Richard Branson

fter the past weeks following our first issue, I am shocked, surprised, humbled, and feel so blessed by the response you, the reading public, have offered us. It has been a rollercoaster since our first issue hit in the last week of April, and we have all enjoyed the ride–no matter how bumpy, how unsure, or how fast it was going.

Business Black Box

Having any response at all is incredible–it is not untypical for publications to sit quietly in newsstands, waiting for a curious soul to pick them up, open them and see what they have to say. This is especially true for startups, and we are not disillusioned enough to assume that everyone wants us just because we exist. But even better than having some response is having lots of response–and that’s something that I never imagined we’d have in such heaps. From people all along the I-85 corridor, we’ve received calls, emails, letters, and Facebook messages.We are more aware now than ever before of our place in the Upstate, and how blessed we are to have the support we do. But what has also come out of this has been a learning experience –the knowledge that once we, as business men and women, undertake something we love to do–be it selling cars, building houses, giving great advice or, like me, building a magazine–we instantly become entrepreneurs. We care about the outcome so much more. We want success. We have the drive to work long hours and pour ourselves into it and give it everything we have, because we love what we do and see ourselves in our work. We want it.We live it. We love it. There’s so much more satisfaction in that than just having a job. Now, along the way, there are always hurdles. I like to think of them as walls, rocks, and duststorms. Walls are stoppers. They are meant to halt progress, and must be paid attention to. Usually, they are there for good reason and it pays to respect them. Otherwise, it can be like butting your head against...well, a wall. Rocks are obstacles. They bring about pain and a lot of work, but they can be moved. Still, through all the focus and effort they take, they are usually worth moving to clear the space around you for better, more efficient work. Duststorms, on the other hand, are distractions. They are things that seem ominous, and big, and scary, but if you simply…hold still….and let them pass, they can’t keep you from moving forward. Interestingly enough, the duststorms are usually the most dangerous. They distract us from what’s important and how we get there and...oh, where are we? What are we doing here? Who am I, again? Soon enough we’re caught up in a lot of dust and debris that isn’t really…doing…anything. We end up halting our own progress because of fear, or chaos, or letting the distractions take over. Beware the duststorms. Respect the walls. Work on the rocks. And as we move forward at Business Black Box, let me, once again, thank you for your support. We are, like you, working on our own rocks and dealing with our own duststorms.We’ve already made a few changes in our second issue that I think you’ll like as much as we do. Regardless, we love what we do, and we’ll be here.


P.S. - We have been listening to your suggestions, too – so, please, use the information here to contact us with your business stories, successes, and even those nagging failures. My team and I are here for you, and we can’t wait to hear what you’ve got going on.

July/August 2009

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Business Black Box

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July/August 2009


Business Black Box



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Water of Life | p.o. box 24151 | greenville, sc 29616 | 864.241.6222 July/August 2009

Random&Rele 140≥ The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that they will be setting up 47 Energy Frontier Research Centers across the nation to perform advanced scientific research on energy. Thirty-one of these centers will be established at leading universities across the country, and the University of South Carolina (USC) was one of the first to be chosen to host one. Research at these centers will focus on areas of energy including solar energy, transportation, energy efficiency, nuclear energy, biofuels, and electrical energy –by Andrew Brandenburg storage and transmission. The center at USC will specifically focus on researching, understanding and developing new nano-structured heterogeneous materials—materials used in the development of engineering devices such as fuel cells, electrodes and combustion devices.

Energy Frontier Research Center And...

Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider – who works at USC as a professor of mechanical engineering and is both chair of USC’s Center for SolidOxide Fuel Cells and director of USC’s Future Fuels Initiative – will lead the research at USC’s facility. According to Reifsnider, their work will fall into three general categories: researching what has already been accomplished in this field of energy; combining all of the information that is collected so it will be available to scientists for reference and research; and, experimenting in order to develop new materials based on the research done and information collected. This three-fold mission was developed to help revolutionize energy research and development. Reifsnider says the research will be performed so scientists will be able to understand what they’ve already done in the field; further research will open up new areas of experimentation and development. Once preliminary research is complete, scientists at the center will then begin to experiment and develop new materials based on their new understanding. By beginning with research and documentation, the scientists will be able to perform more-informed experimentation, potentially predict results and avoid uninformed experimentation.


The Q: @InsideBlackBox: 140 wds or less: Does technology (in general) help, or hinder, your business/work? (Use #BB140 to respond!)

The A: @swagclub: technology and work? tech has been second only to lunches in helping me work and connect. and I love long lunches! @bigjonevans: What I do is based on Technology so I would be without a job if I didnt have technology. @lbstewart: Technology HELPS business work, but can be very distracting too. I get much less done, but I learn more about the world! @katiejcrose: Technology increases the number of ways I can conduct my business, while threatening to divide my attention from the main objectives. @thebrandbuilder: Tech hasn’t just helped my business, it has completely redefined it for the coming decade. @missdestructo: Without technology, I would never be able to eat a can of yams during a business meeting.

what Bill said... ology y techn le of an ru ation t m rs to fi u “ The ss is that a peration e n si u b used in a fficient o y. The to an e efficienc applied e th y if pplied n a g a n will m tomatio u a t will a th is peration second cient o .” ffi e in n y to a cienc the ineffi magnify

what we said...


- Bill Gate

“Huh?! I’m sorry...can you repeat the question?” - Business Black Box July/August 2009

Business Black Box

From an economic perspective, the center will impact South Carolina in several ways. One immediate effect will be the creation of new jobs to make the center a reality. Similarly, the center will draw more students interested in energy research and development, since much of the experimentation will be done by undergrad, graduate and post-grad students under the supervision of USC faculty. Additional long-term results include the potential for developing cleaner,cheaper,more-efficient sources of energy as well as investments in research and development that are more cost-effective due to the research that will be done to fuel and direct experimentation. This facility will be at the forefront of energy research in this area, which will help further establish South Carolina and USC in this field and provide another means to draw people and businesses to the area. Graduates impacted by this center and stay in the area will be better equipped to provide work and service in their careers.

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The Ripple Effect ı For every action, there are equal reactions. The same holds true in business. One move affects another, which affects another, which affects...

The Ripple Effect:

Random & Relevant Black b ox



b o x Random & Relevant


The Gist: According to Godin, the newest trend revealing itself to the marketing world is the building of tribes – people who don’t just buy your product, they believe it. But it goes far past marketing – Godin’s theories also build a platform of support for leadership building – how to lead, who to lead, and where to lead them. How it’s Written: No chapters, just sections. Little bits of wisdom scattered between true stories of real people who actually did what Godin is talking about.

Great if: you are into selfreflection on how to reach people and get them to truly care – about you, your product or service, or your platform.

Business Black Box

Don’t miss: “Discomfort,” which states “leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.”


Something cool: if you take a peek inside the cover, you’ll notice a bunch of faces. Godin’s inner “tribe” sent them in, per his command before the book came out. It’s a perfect illustration of how to get people to buy into something and do anything you ask them to. Our Read: Tribes is definitely a must-read in the business community. If you get nothing out of it, we’d be really surprised.

July/August 2009


Greenville Chamber of Commerce Event - October 28, 2008 Lots more to see at

Between the Pages

What we read: Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, by Seth Godin. Portfolio, 2008.

Sales Strategies for Success: Obstacles are Opportunities C. Dan Joyner, President & Founder of Prudential C. Dan Joyner

Attendees heard: Dan Joyner shares his personal obstacles, experiences, and trials and errors that have lead him to conclude the five ingredients necessary for any GREAT company. His presentation includes determination, answering and returning phone calls, being a team player, not substituting hard work, and being willing to help your fellow-man. *To hear Dan’s other inspirational business philosophies go to

Greenville GROW Expo - May19, 2009 NEXT Forum for Fast Growth Technology Companies Logan Metcalfe, Founder of Arena Consulting

What the audience walked away with: The panel that Logan Metcalfe presents consists of highimpact technology companies in the Upstate and they champion the question, “What came first, the company or the capital?” Responses to this question consist of finding funding sources that fit your needs, expecting to need more than you think, and constructing a strong foundation with quality personnel and legal counsel. *For more panel responses and their insight into becoming a fast growth, high-impact Technology Company, go to

Business Black Box Spotlight: CoconutWater

Coconutwater is a one-stop shop for business needs for small and medium-sized businesses. Coconutwater offers business help in four areas: marketing assistance, web services, project coordination, and administrative support.


Get Connected: Connect with other business owners and tons of potential customers. Submit your business to our online directory for free at

Business Black Box

July/August 2009



10 Tips:

Marketing On A Budget

Difficult economic times are not the times to stick your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. It’s in the tricky times that the really resourceful professionals end up winning the race. So how do you continue to market your brand when budgets are tight or non-existent.


Use online media more effectively. Online media are very cost effective and give you more control over targeting and measuring your outcomes.

2. Provide great content in return for ad space. Try submitting an article about the local market filled with facts and figures (and some opinion) and see if you can make a contra deal with the publication-editorial in return for an advertisement. If you are unable to secure a dedicated ad, make sure you can clearly brand the editorial-this in itself works well as an advertisement. 3.

Business Black Box

Empower your email newsletters. E-newsletters are a cheap way of communicating your message and your brand (and hopefully some really useful content) to an audience who is interested in what you have to say.


door anymore it’s time to return to old-fashioned networking and relationship building. People do business with people, not billboards. Also, don’t be a pushy, card-toting salesman either! They’ll see right through you.

6. Watch your language. Talk positively about what you do and how business is going. Be mindful of not talking about how tough times are. Remember, you attract what you are. 7. Involve yourself in social networking. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have added a new dimension to business networking. These “listening tools” allow you to find pockets and communities interested in what you do. Find those communities, join the conversation, and emerge as their leader. 8. Track what you do. The biggest mistake you can make is NOT knowing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your marketing effort. 9. Customer service is key. The best business is referred business. After every business transaction, follow up with an email, phone call, or mailer to your customer thanking them for their business. In addition, instituting a simple reward scheme for referrals is always helpful in generating advocates.

4. Local sponsorships. While now might not be the time to offer a $1 million sponsorship deal, you could start a new relationship that gives your brand some new visibility in return for event promotion through your own networks and cash donations 10. Don’t be afraid to have fun! down the track. Business doesn’t always have to be 5. Network like crazy. When the about business. Remember, those deals aren’t walking through your who work hard.

July/August 2009

• Retail giant Wal-Mart is planning to create over 1,000 jobs in South Carolina, including store management, pharmacists, and human resource managers.

b o x Random & Relevant

Latest News ●BMW took green initiative by investing another $12 million to expand the space and efficiency of its “Gas-to-Energy” landfill methane program • Baskin-Robbins is seeking franchisees to open more than 30 new stores in the Greenville/Spartanburg area, in addition to kiosks and cafes. • Three South Carolina universities– Medical USC, USC and Clemson–were each selected to receive a new Center of Economic Excellence. These new centers will create new openings for professors and will enable research regarding several emerging high-growth, technology-intensive industries. It’s proposed that these new centers will play a part in creating new jobs and stimulating the local economy. •●Fluor Corporation won the prime contractor position for the world’s largest wind turbine project under construction off of Britain’s Suffolk coast. • Clemson University received $2.5 million from President and CEO of Metromont Rick Pennell in part to continue the creation of the newly named Richard H. Pennell Center for Real Estate Development. • Wofford plans to renovate Baptist Collegiate Ministry building to become new music education facility, made possible by $800,000 donation from Spartanburg’s Walter & Betty Montgomery, Rose Montgomery Johnson, and family. • Spartanburg’s First Nation Bancshares Inc., the 3rd largest depositor in Spartanburg, asked its shareholders to give their permission to increase the company’s common stock tenfold in attempts to raise capital. •●Greenville Hospital System’s finance committee voted to give 50 year-old Allen Bennett Memorial Hospital to the city of Greer, if desired. • The Upstate S.C. Alliance website now features a state-of-the-art navigation tool as well as a wealth of data from the Upstate. These new features were developed in order to make the Upstate more marketable to possible businesses and workers, since research shows that many businesses refer to the Internet—specifically maps—when looking to relocate.

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Business Black Box

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b o x Random & Relevant




Francis B. Allgood

what’s happening?

Who he is: Managing Editor, GSA Business, the business journal for Upstate South Carolina How to find him: (864) 235-5677, What you need to know: Send press releases to

Here are just a couple of things going on around the Upstate for business owners, networkers, or entrepreneurs.

Business Black Box

• WHAT - Small Business Owners’ Forum • WHEN - Wed, July 1, 11:30am – 1:00pm • WHERE - Greenville Chamber of Commerce • DETAILS- Join this interactive discussion based on the needs of small business owners. Attendees are asked to come with questions and concerns, opportunities and struggles as the featured panelist offer their insights and real world experiences. This event is open to Chamber member, small business owners only. Registration and networking will begin at 11:30 a.m., with the program immediately following at 12:00 p.m. No cost to attend. For more information, contact Claudia Wise at 864-239-3728.


• WHAT - Power-NOTE Luncheon • WHEN - Thu, August 6, 11:45am – 1:15pm • WHERE - Carolina First Center • DETAILS- Power Connections: A structured opportunity for members to connect with new people who could be important to the growth and strength of their business. This might include referral sources, prospects, vendors or peers. Power Principles: While eating lunch, members will be provided with an interactive program focused on business best practices or skills … with the specific objective of providing members with new and fresh insights into important areas of their business. Power Networking: An unstructured opportunity to connect with the presenter(s) and other members in attendance. For more information, or to register, please visit: Get connected by listing your event for FREE on our Business Black Box master business calendar:


Simply fill out the form and we’ll get your event posted to the calendar.

July/August 2009

What to talk to him about: Economic development,

new innovation and best practices, and key legislation impacting the business community. 

Other information, in case you need it: GSA Business is the biweekly newspaper serving senior level business decision-makers in the upstate region of SC encompassing the cities of Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson, and the surrounding counties. In addition to the print publication,  GSA Business  prints the “Book of Lists” and delivers business news through the email product GSA Daily and podcast “What’s All The Hype?” GSA Business also produces networking events to facilitate relationship building including the Power Breakfast Series and the Women’s Summit. Website for more:

what Martha said... what we said...

“I find that when you have a real interest in life and a curious life, that sleep is not the most important thing.”

- Martha Stewart

We’ve t’s that? a h W . p you “Slee f it. Are o rd a e ain, never h illows ag p ll e s trying to ” ox Martha? s Black B - Busines


b o x 11 QUESTIONS 1. What was your first job?

My first job was making picture frames. My father had bought a corner saw and some molding samples, and we posted some displays and would make picture frames custom for order.

2. How did you get involved in your line of work? When I was a kid, my father’s boss knew I had an interest in business and started giving him his Forbes magazine for me to read, so as a kid I read Forbes magazine a lot, and that really does a lot to help you understand the way people talk and what’s going on—and, of course, majoring in economics in college.

3. What are some of the skills you developed early that you’ve found to be beneficial or essential to your practices now? I’ve done some thinking of where I’ve accumulated a lot of hours and one of the basics is being able to have a discussion and explain what’s going on in the economy. But at the same time, the related skill of that to me is being able to explain for a business–or, for my business–what the real key element is, so I think one of my key skills is the ability to present a vision of where we are going—it doesn’t have to be complex—either in the economy or as an institution.


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

I’m not sure I always do—I think that is always an ongoing challenge. It’s a different challenge than it used to be. But when you are immersed in something, you never completely let it go, so that can cause balance problems.

5. What are some strategies you use to do so / keep yourself in check?

Business Black Box

One of the biggest things is keeping track of what’s important versus what’s urgent. I think many times people become unbalanced because they get caught up in doing things that are urgent right now but if they had a longer-run view they’d see that they really weren’t that important, and you can lose a lot of time with other people’s crises.


July/August 2009

6. What vision do you promote for your employees, and how do you get your employees to buy into or tap into that vision?

I think the real “big vision” is that we are going to impact per capita income in the Upstate. That is the real vision: take away all the operations and everything else about it—the Johnson College of Business is about more income for residents of the Upstate. By focusing on that level of the vision, I think the faculty members truly believe that if their skills are embodied in the workers and the businesses here, we will be prosperous.

7. If you could choose one principle or piece of knowledge

you know now that you wish you had known early on in your career, what would that be? Part of me wishes I knew how much fun I would have as an administrator earlier, because I was very happy as a professor and very happy as a classroom teacher, but never imagined that I would enjoy the transition as much as I did.

8. If you retired tomorrow and could change to any field except the one you are in now, what would you pick?

Definitely going into business, as opposed to education. I don’t know what type of business to be in, but entrepreneurship and innovation. There are so many smart people out there—creative people with a lot of creative ideas—but they don’t necessarily have someone with the business tie-in to help them get a product to market or scale it up. I really think everyone is in business. I would be really intrigued to play with the newspaper business since it’s in such financial trouble. I think the fact that there are so many models of how to lose money running newspapers means that the industry is wide open for the opportunity to try some new business models.

9. What was your biggest failure as a professional?

I had a period of time with my journal article writing where I received a string of rejections. I was writing the papers, sending them out; they were coming back, I was sending them again—just rejection after rejection.

10. What did you do to recover from that failure?

What I realized at that time was I was writing based on the research I had done and what I thought people needed to know instead of looking at the outlets and seeing what they wanted to publish. I wasn’t focused on the audience; I was only focused on my story. Learning to target the message was a huge step.

11. How do you avoid those similar failures today?

A lot of it is just thinking about the end you want to accomplish and understanding what the other person is doing. Those are really the two key things, I think. Actually I think those were two of Stephen Covey’s habits: understanding the person and beginning with the end in mind—classic truths.

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July/August 2009

Business Black Box

Greenville: 864-233-6915 • Powdersville: 864-335-4804



Photography by Conrad LaRosa

Business Black Box



July/August 2009

Watch the full interview at


arah Lynne Howie will readily admit that she never imagined she’d wind up with a fast-track career in the railroad industry, even though her father, Tom Howie, is a veteran locomotive engineer and supervisor. “I’d never even been on a moving train until I was 21 and going around Europe,” exclaims the director of Operations for Rail Training and Consulting, adding “I thought I was too girly.” Tap dancing was her passion, but the aspirations to pursue a professional path got derailed after just one year at the University of Georgia. That’s when she switched gears to healthcare, a track that took her to Maxim Health Services in Atlanta after graduation. “I learned so much about running a business from Maxim,” says Howie, who describes getting a solid education in operations, payroll, human resources and recruitment, and even sales, during her tenure. It also fulfilled another goal, “To get outside of my small town, and learn on my own, and make a name for myself.” Howie didn’t know it at the time, but the experience would prove invaluable. Her father–who Howie admits left a “cush” railroad position at CSX Transportation to start the two companies for which he now presides–Rail Training & Consulting, Inc., and RailSoft Systems, Inc.–was growing the business and also looking to eventually retire. Enter his daughter. “It was the best combination for my father,” she explains, “He didn’t have a solid business background.” So two weeks after she landed in the director of operations chair, she was signing her father’s paychecks, a story Howie says he loves to tell. She maintains that she and her dad have a great relationship. “I respect him tremendously, and we report to each other.” Good thing, because it is still a small company and Howie “wears every hat imaginable.” In just a few years, the young executive says she’s “learned a ton about the industry”–so much that she’s now prepared to give back. “I am teaching them about compliance and what they need to run their business successfully.” It’s not an easy task to navigate the channels of a traditionally male-centric business, but Howie is clicking her way through on stilettos.“Sixty percent of the entire industry will retire in the next five years,” she notes. “You can’t stand idly by.” “The industry is becoming more I.T. savvy, and more efficient in the way they run freight,” she says, noting that it has been good not only for her business, but also for her personally. “I’m lazy,” she laughs, noting that many of the tasks that were traditionally done by hand are being computerized for the generation that demands online accessibility. Looking forward, Howie is pleased with the recent turn by the government to demand more compliance, which also helps her business. But the bottom line is that she enjoys working with her father, and more recently her brother, to carry the company into the future. “It’s an extremely rewarding job, and I feel fortunate to be able to do it every day.”


Graduated University of Georgia


Account Manager at Maxim Healthcare Services Atlanta, Ga.


Director of Operations at Rail Training & Consulting, Inc.


Served on Planning Committee for 2009 ASLRRA annual convention in Las Vegas


Just began a two-year term as associate board member to Georgia Railroad Association

Member of League of Railway Industry Women. Member of Junior League since 2004; served as vice-chair of sustainer outreach committee; helped plan Oscar Night America; volunteers with McCall Hospice House.

Profile by Lydia Dishman

Railroad Industry is a Leader in Environmentally Friendly Freight Transport One rail freight car can carry the equivalent of four truck loads. Railroads consume almost a third less fuel than trucks, per ton mile moved. One rail car can carry a ton of cargo 436 miles on one gallon of fuel. Railroads are working to reduce emissions of particulate matter by 90% and nitrogen oxide by 80%. Short line railroads take the equivalent of nearly 33 million truck loads off the highways. Diverting truckloads from the highway saves the country more than $1.4 billion annually in repair costs. Freight moved by rail also improves highway safety and congestion.

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Convenient Efficient Clean Cost-Saving Safe

Reprinted from American Short Line and Regional Rail Association

July/August 2009


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July/August 2009

-by Andrew Brandenburg

July/August 2009

Business Black Box

How Wendy Anthony Moved from Global Traveler to Upstate Ambassador


Last November, Wendy Anthony, a producer with CNN in Atlanta, moved to Greenville following her husband and his new job. As an enthusiast for international places and people, she joined International Center of the Upstate’s book club right away.

But she was in store for so much more.

Culture Shift: TV to Non-Profit

Prior to moving to Greenville, Anthony, now executive director of the International Center of the Upstate, was only able to make short trips to the area—her husband moved to Greenville in May 2008 to work for General Electric, but Anthony arranged to continue working with CNN en Español as a producer through the 2008 presidential election. Since she wasn’t living in the area, most of her knowledge from Greenville came from Internet research and her husband’s accounts. “I had never heard of it,” Anthony says as she remembers the first time her husband told her about his new job in Greenville. “I was like, ‘Greenville? What? Where’s Greenville?’ And after he said ‘Greenville,’ all I saw in Atlanta were signs for Greenville, South Carolina.” So Greenville, South Carolina was on the map, and as a journalist and an enthusiast for all things international, Anthony proceeded to research the area. “I did a search for ‘Greenville international,’” she said, “And I found out about the ICU and that Greenville is the region in the country with the highest international investment per capita. I couldn’t believe it.”


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I can honestly say that this job has allowed me to feel the same energy that I felt in television...

Upon her discovery, Anthony decided she wanted to join the ICU. “I found out about the International Center and said, ‘Maybe moving is okay because it sounds like there’s an international population—I’m going to join this club.’” That was Anthony’s first understanding of the ICU: an international club. “So I kind of warmed up to the idea.” July/August 2009

Between May and November of 2008, Anthony began to learn about and visit Greenville more and more. “My husband moved here,” she said, “and I began to move here little by little by little.” As Anthony searched for opportunities in the area to get involved—especially in the community and international population—she began to look beyond her current career path for new opportunities. “I kind of realized that part of me was interested in working with TV, but part of me was also interested in working with the community with non-profit,” she says. “I thought working with the community would be fun and a great opportunity and experience for me, but I wasn’t sure what the path was.” Anthony happened to find the first step in her path in the health section of a local convenience store: “I met someone at Costco one day; we started talking about lotion, and she said, ‘Well, what do you do here?’ and I says, ‘I’m a producer for CNN, but we just moved here, and I think I want to transition into non-profit.’” Ironically, the woman Anthony had met—Jan Howard, development director for Habitat for Humanity—works in an Upstatenon-profit and offered to introduce her and help her get involved in the community. She then introduced Anthony to Russell Stall, executive director of Greenville Forward, who provided Anthony with the next step on her path. When Anthony and Stall met for coffee to talk about the Upstate people, community and local non-profits, Anthony remembers him asking her if she knew about the International Center. During their conversation, he received an email via Blackberry telling him the ICU was looking for a new executive director. He passed along the information to Anthony, saying that she “would be perfect for the position.” Anthony was surprised: “I was like, ‘Are you serious? I emailed them this morning to join their book club!’” she says. “I was just thrilled.” Then Anthony began to consider the position and the likelihood of landing it seriously. “I thought it was a long shot for executive director. I mean I have TV experience—I’ve got wonderful TV experience—but why would they give me an opportunity like that?” Still, Anthony applied for the position, went through a long interviewing process and was hired eventually. “I really talked about my transferable skills,” she says. “It was wonderful.”

Learning the

More About International Center of the Upstate


After being hired as executive director, Anthony spent three weeks with former Executive Director Patricia Harrison training for the position. While Anthony was definitely qualified for the job, there was much to learn to fill the shoes of executive director. “No one understands the organization like Patricia does,” Anthony says. “She was the first director, and she really turned it into something huge with the help of the volunteers and the board—the volunteers are our life blood. “She just taught me so much about the community here and working with people and getting to know the people, the ins and outs of the organization; what works and what doesn’t,” Anthony adds. “I still call her and say, ‘Hey, Patricia, what do you think about this?’ and she’s wonderful.” And, of course, there are new and different challenges that come with a career shift. “It’s a new industry for me, and it’s just been wonderful, and I think I’ve learned so much, and I’m going to learn so much more,” she says. Anthony makes it clear that she loved her old job and especially the people she worked with—it was a tough choice for her to leave the television industry. But the style, focus, and opportunities that this new position provides feed her interests and passions perfectly. “I can honestly say that this job has allowed me to feel the same energy that I felt in television, whereas not all jobs can do that,” she says. “I mean it’s so new, so fresh—there was so much to learn. I meet so many different people that it’s really been exciting, not like a desk job at all—which is every journalist’s fear: ‘if you leave television, you’re going to be at a desk job and it’s going to be boring.’”

I think it’s fascinating: you can walk into a grocery store in another country and learn so much about people. I love that.

• Basic membership is $40/year • Language classes and conversation clubs taught by native speakers. Classes include multiple focuses in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German, as well as conversation clubs in English and Spanish, which are free for members.

• International Relocation Program: This program is geared to help individuals new to the country integrate successfully and better understand the culture. Services are available both to businesses for relocating employees and to individuals. o Consultants can also host tours of the local area, pointing out shopping locations, specialty stores, recreational facilities, museums and libraries, parks, post offices, entertainment venues, adult educational facilities, and other governmental offices. o The ICU also works with families of people who have relocated to the Upstate for work. By helping them integrate into the society, it prevents families from separating through families going back home because they’re not comfortable in their new home. o Seminars to help international individuals assimilate into the American and Upstate culture. Seminars cover taxes, immigration laws, driving rules, etc.

July/August 2009

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Anthony does everything from promoting the ICU and their services to coordinating events, to buying supplies for events, and working at them. It’s a diverse job that takes talent in a multitude of areas. “I’m not just planning events,” she says. “I’m not just building our membership; I’m not just working with organizations at one of our business events. I’m making flyers for events, passing them out, doing it all—with the help of our volunteers, of course.” As for Anthony, she’s putting her transferable skills to good use. “I’m fast; I’m on the ball,” Anthony says. “I’m all over the place and multi-tasking. Those are skills that you really work on and hone in television—being able to do lots of things very quickly. And that’s something I’ve been able to use a lot.” Her experience in and knowledge of the television industry has caused her to make a greater effort in gaining exposure through that venue. “I think it’s very important to get the media coverage, and that’s been a big goal for me too,” Anthony says. “Already I’ve been in City People and on Your Carolina, and I think that my knowledge of television and working in television has helped to make that possible.”

Here’s a list of services the ICU offers that may be useful to you or your business:


• Country Contacts: Resource for individuals from different countries who have volunteered to be resources to those who have moved from abroad as well as contact information for international groups in the Upstate.

• Diversity Training: The ICU offers diversity training to individuals and businesses in order to help them better understand and interact with people of other cultures. By promoting better interaction, the ICU is able to help promote and stimulate international relations and business.

• Social Events: The ICU hosts cultural events celebrating global diversity including dance workshops, Russian vodka tastings, and the annual International Gala “A World Class Evening,” which falls on October 2, 2009, this year.

• Upstate Global Professionals:

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to foster relationships of international business and commerce professionals and promote the exchange of ideas through educational programs and cultural events. Membership is open to all those interested in advancing and supporting the global business culture in Upstate South Carolina.


• International Women’s Club: offers an outlet for women who are international or interested in international culture. • International Book Club: features books by international authors that will take you to worlds and cultures around the globe.

July/August 2009

Building Culture Through Culture

As the ICU’s second executive director, Anthony wants to further and expand everything that the center has accomplished thus far, and she also brings her own unique goals and perspectives with her. One area of this growth focuses on the growing professionalism of the organization—an endeavor that was in motion prior to her joining. “Already, the organization is making a more professionalized organization,” Anthony says. “We were already professional, but we want to take it up a notch.” The main reason they want to do this is to show local businesses and the Upstate what they have to offer. “A long time ago the ICU was perceived as a club,” according to Anthony. But the ICU has much more to offer than just memberships and get-togethers. It offers unique and valuable services to promote Upstate business, including a networking group and an international business group. They also have various events throughout the year with guest speakers who have unique perspectives on the international community and business. Anthony wants to get the word out about how important the ICU is to the business community. “We’re working on not just being for the families but also working for the business and business people,” she says. “[One of my goals is] making more people know about us— getting the word out there more every day.” And Anthony makes a huge effort for this, even in her personal life: “I tell people everywhere—when I get gas, when I go to the grocery store, when I go to the gym, everywhere.”

Upstate Vision: Growing an International Hub

Anthony’s vision goes far beyond the physical walls of the the ICU. She wants the ICU to impact the Upstate. “Our mission is to create cross-cultural diversity,” Anthony says. “We like to promote the image of the Upstate as an important hub for international business—that’s why we exist—because we’re so international as a community.” Anthony’s vision for the Upstate and the goal of the ICU is dual-facetted—they want to aide and grow international and local business in the Upstate as well as help diverse and intercultural people assimilate successfully into the Upstate community. “I really want the ICU to be the place for the international community and for the Upstate community,” Anthony says. “When you have an international issue—who do you call? You call us.” “That’s our vision: to take it to the next level,” she continued. “I want your organization, your company, to come to us; talk to us about diversity training, about language services.” And that’s one of the ICU’s greatest offerings to local businesses: the connections they can make. “Come to us for referrals, because we have those connections with the interpretation companies, with the translation companies,” she says. But the ICU also offers services of its own. “We have diversity training counselors,” Anthony says. “We have language classes. We have consultants who help with the assimilation process when you come here—help you get your Social Security number, your driver’s license.” In short, Anthony wants the ICU to be the international “go-to” for the Upstate. “We want to be the international resource—the one that you call—this is the place you go to.” The ICU helps Upstate business in a greater way than just offering services to individual businesses, though. “I really think that the ICU helps to promote the economy because we support efforts to bring businesses here, and that’s great for where we live,” Anthony says. “It provides jobs, it provides movement, it keeps the economy rolling.” And considering the economic downturn the United States is facing right now, that’s a big deal.

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July/August 2009


Looking Down

How her passion for travel developed: “When we had a desire to travel, [my mom] completely supported us,” Wendy says, which helped Wendy and her siblings further explore other cultures. “All of my friends were buying cars when they were 16, but I was saving money to travel.”

the Road

In this new job and industry Anthony continues to use her unique life experiences and perspectives to her advantage. “I think that my knowledge of different cultures that I gained from my television experience has really opened me up,” she says. But she definitely can’t do it alone. Anthony stressed the invaluable nature of the help the center gets from its volunteers: “Thank God we have wonderful volunteers that make everything possible—our board of directors and all of our volunteers.”

I think that my knowledge of different cultures that I gained from my television experience has really opened me up.

Although she misses the excitement and nature of work she had at CNN and especially the people she was able to work with, Anthony says she’s thrilled with her new job. “I love knowing more about people, so how lucky am I to be able to work in the community, working not only with people in the Upstate but also the internationals,” she says. “I feel like I could not be luckier to get to know the area doing what I love: dealing with people and helping people and the community that I live in.”

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College & Majors: Wendy attended St. Louis University for her undergrad and triple-majored in Spanish, international studies, and communication. “I wanted to go to St. Louis [University] because they have a campus in Spain, and I wanted to go to Spain,” she said, “and I knew that at St. Louis University there were 200 or 300 Spaniards there every year because they start in Spain and finish in the United States.” How she met her husband, Jorge: While working for her master’s degree, the advisor of the French language house introduced Wendy to Jorge, who’s originally from Spain. Wendy finished her master’s degree the same time that Jorge finished his undergrad studies. They moved to Atlanta, Ga., together where Jorge began working for his master’s degree and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at Georgia Technical College. Her first (career) job: While Jorge was working for his degrees, Wendy attempted to begin a career with CNN. “I just applied and applied and applied and applied and hoped I would get the job,” she said. The couple moved to Atlanta in August, and Wendy was hired by CNN in December.

Wendy’s move from Atlanta and CNN en Español was a journey in itself, but how she became interested in and involved with international cultures is a whole different story. Here are some of the finer points of Wendy’s journey: Family: Wendy is one of six siblings (one’s her twin sister). She grew up in St Louis, Missouri. Catalyst to her international interest: “My older sister took my twin sister and me to a Day of the Dead festival in a park in our neighborhood, and I thought it was awesome,” she said. “There was a band playing, and I just decided I wanted to speak Spanish.” July/August 2009

First foreign soil visited: Costa Rica. “I stayed with a very humble family,” she said. “They had a two-bedroom house; they slept in one room and let me sleep in the other. Every night we covered ourselves in bug spray and slept with nets…It was an awesome experience. It made me aware of different lifestyles and different levels of poverty.”

You can really burn bridges by not having cultural sensitivity.

At CNN: Wendy began and worked as a V.J. or video journalist (someone who passes out scripts and rolls the teleprompter) for six months and then was moved to a feeds position (someone who records video). Following her job in feeds she was able to work on the show “Inside Africa” for one session of a six-month rotation. Following her work there, Wendy expected to go back to feeds but was given the opportunity to work as an associate producer for CNN in general until Wolfe Blitzer hired her to be an associate producer for his show “Wolfe Blitzer Reports” and then “Situation Room.” Following these jobs, a producer position opened with CNN en Espanol, where she worked for three years.


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July/August 2009




Architecture/Engineering: by W.K. Dickson

Water Slides: Umbrellas & Canopies:

by Natural Structures

by Shadescapes

Play Islands:


by Playtime

by Antonio Jimenez Landscaping

Pool: by Aqua Blue

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Shipwreck Cove, Duncan


July/August 2009

Overall Waterpark Construction

Overall Playground Construction

$3 million

(Stoneledge Park) $500,000

Lighting: by The Lighting Center

BIG PICTURE Black b ox

Lounge Chairs: Ship:

by Admiral

by Angela Dougherty (commissioned artist)

119 South Spencer Street Duncan, SC 29334 864.949.0290 Opened: June 2009 Days & Hours of Operation Monday – Saturday 10am - 6pm Sunday 1pm - 6pm General Admission $8.00 – under 48” $10.00 – 48” and over

Water: by Startex-Jackson-WellfordDuncan Water District

Lifeguard Stands: by Superior Pool Products Business Black Box

July/August 2009


CEOs & LEA Black

b o x CEOs & LEADERS

leaders jump out windows by geoff wasserman

Geoff Wasserman, CEO and president of Showcase Marketing and Publisher of Business Black Box, spends most of his business time advising and consulting with business and ministry leaders developing growth strategies. Before starting Showcase Marketing in 1999, Geoff spent seven years in sports marketing with the Montreal Expos and the Atlanta Braves, and seven years as managing director in the financial service industry with two Fortune 500 Companies. Every week, at least once—sometimes on multiple occasions—leaders are faced with a decision–in front of an open window of opportunity, to jump or stay in the room they’re in. Windows of opportunity open up all the time in life. Great leaders (in business, at home, in communities) have spent painstaking amounts of time and energy promoting the right people to the right positions around them, people that aren’t just leaders, but who cover the leaders’ blind spots, see things she doesn’t see, and who are able to effectively corral people, information and experience together to proactively bring sound advice in their areas of giftings to the leader. As a leader, however, at some point there’s a decision to make. Once you’ve counted the cost as best you can with the available information and advice you have, how much more information will you need before you jump through the window of opportunity?

Great leaders recognize 6 things:

1) When they jump, they have the burden and responsibility of pulling all those attached to them through the same window.

2) They have become accustomed to recognizing windows in the first place. 3) There’s never an unlimited amount of time to jump. 4) They’re able to quickly assess whether there’s an opportunity for it to open again.

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5) Most windows aren’t high up enough to kill anyone from the fall; great leaders can decipher the very few that will.


6) They’re at peace with the fact that they make the same amount of mistakes as non-leaders, they’re just willing to jump more. Great leaders understand the power of a moment, the “aha!”, the pivotal point in a meeting, conversation, or process where a window is open, and they typically jump where others stay in the same room and admire the view. July/August 2009

acknd b d e Fe orm, advise ua visit

o s st Brain in when y om/CEO c . h weig lackBox eB Insid


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July/August 2009


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July/August 2009

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July/August 2009


most likely, from the time there were more than two groups of people in a given area of land, there was the chance for a

little rivalry, friendly or otherwise.

The first time it seems to have been documented between towns in the Upstate is around the start of the 20th century. Sure, long before that there were skirmishes between Native Americans and settlers in a region that was frontier and backcountry, when other areas of the state, like Charleston, were considered to be civilized communities. But that was also before the towns of the Upstate were noted as such. It would be the 19th century before Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson and other places in the Upstate could truly be considered much more than loosely-connected homesteaders. In fewer than 100 years after they were defined as villages, though, despite very similar beginnings, each of these three communities had established themselves as separate entities, each with the common threads of Scots-Irish, German and Cherokee bloodlines, each with the warp and weft of textiles, each with its own proud identity – nonetheless, an identity worth arguing over. Could be it was that edgy Scots-Irish impulse to fight. Could be it was a tendency of some other bloodline. Could be it was baseball.Yes, baseball. It’s documented that rivalries between Upstate communities arose during the time of textile league baseball, as early as 1909.

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Whatever the root, somewhere along the way, despite – or maybe because of – their commonalities, some rivalry developed amongst the communities in the Piedmont region of South Carolina, particularly between Greenville and Spartanburg. These rivalries lasted decades after Shoeless Joe and Champ Osteen and others like them were gone.


July/August 2009

Fast forward about another century from that first documented rivalry and find something different. People who have lived their whole lives here and who are of, let’s say, a certain age, will admit to the rivalry. Newcomers give a puppy-dog-style quizzical look. Nobody knows the root of the rivalry, even when they’ll admit there was one. Most folks seem to think it’s a bit of a myth.The focus these days, from chambers of commerce to Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) to EPA regulators to university administrators to entrepreneurs, is on one Upstate, driven, united, proud of its individual communities and its collective spirit.

part 1: identifying

the problem -by Jordana Megonigal

The question of whether or not a rivalry actually exists among Upstate counties is definitely worth posing – but not one easily answered. While many will say that one exists, one is hard-pressed to find tangible evidence of it. Still, there are those who will vehemently tell stories of not having calls returned, being given all-too-quick “not interested” lines, or even meetings going astray once county divisions are discovered, none of which can be intricately linked to a county competition – in fact, they could be circumstantial or even linked to an evidence of deeper challenges within those businesses – but stories that, nonetheless, bring about a “rumor mill” to perpetuate the idea. Bob Hughes of Hughes Development, a prominent developer based in the Greenville area, reinforces this idea. “I think the Greenville/Spartanburg rivalry is real, although I have never heard


I think the greenville/spartanburg rivalry

is real... because we dont seem to be able to work together

where it makes sense -bob hughes


Business Black Box

anyone in either city actually express any kind of animosity or hesitation about the other,” Hughes says. “But I think it’s real because we don’t seem to be able to work together on enough stuff where working together makes sense.” “I don’t know how it was five or 10 years ago, compared to today,” Hughes adds. “I know that it seems to be there, I’ve just never heard anyone express it.They didn’t five or ten years ago, and they didn’t today.” So, then, could it be that the “not talking about it” is what keeps the rivalry growing? Could it be that what doesn’t truly exist is blown up into a major issue that keeps us all from working – at least effectively – together? It would seem so. In fact, Hughes goes so far as to mention the attempts (ending in inactivity) that seem to weigh heavily on Upstate S.C. “We have so much in common here along the I-85 corridor that our legislative delegations ought to be working together,” he says. “All of our mayors and groups should be working together – and personally I think they get along great… I know there’s even been talk in the past of merging the chambers before, but I don’t ever see anything move forward besides a good talk.” Hughes is definitely not alone in his thinking. Although there are many who won’t speak on the issue of rivalry and whether or not it exists, (much less hinders our businesses and economic impact), there are some who will. Tim Brett is another one of them. For the president of Brett Communications, who has done a good amount of business across Upstate county lines, competition definitely exists, but he sees a very practical side of the issue – community loyalty. “I have found that Spartanburg businesses, for the most part, want to do business with other people from Spartanburg,” Brett says.“It’s probably more to build the economic stability of the area…but there is definitely a slant toward supporting their own community.” “But,” he adds, “I can’t say that Greenville is a lot different. We all like to be concerned with and support our local community.” His advice for those dealing with this issue is to understand that it’s there. “Be cognizant of it. Just know you’re going to have to work a little harder to build those relationships. And, remember that you’re gonna win some, and you’re gonna lose some.” Still, a competitive nature among Upstate counties is extremely prohibitive to our economic effectiveness – fear of rejection or a feeling that “it’s just a waste of time,” keeps

July/August 2009


businesses from working together and building the powerhouse that the Upstate has the potential to be. In fact, the effectiveness of the Upstate politically has long been in question. For a region that brings so much to the table in terms of economic impact, we are not as well-represented as other areas on a state level. Bring in the subject of legislation and you have a topic of discussion that can rile even the mildest of political commentators. “I do think that the Upstate has become rather ineffective in state government,” Hughes says. “We don’t craft the programs; we fight for our share of programs that have already been crafted to serve other constituencies.” “The issues that face [Upstate counties] are pretty much the same, and our voices combined would make this region a more effective economic engine,” Hughes adds. Most likely, it is this frustration that has brought about some of the most recent partnerships in the Upstate – partnerships that serve to grow the region as a whole, without regard to geographic boundaries. A slew of events and alliances have come out of the realization that working together is the only thing that will truly bring us to a point of growth and success. As Hughes says, “We certainly have been the economic engine of the state, and if we fail to maintain that because of anything the legislature does it will simply be because we didn’t work together.”


Business Black Box

-by heather magruder



part 2: turning it

“The Piedmont megaregion is one of the fastest growing in the country,” says Jessica Osborne, Communications director of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. “The real competition is outside,” says Lee Luff, Director of the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce. All over the Upstate, people interested in driving the future of their own businesses and the success of their community see that the future lies on collaboration. It’s about the I-85 corridor. “That’s our future,” Luff says. “It’s not about a county line.” It’s about coming together – looking at ozone particles, or outside competition or making the best of what the whole region has to offer. A good example is the work that the chambers of commerce and business communities have done in working together to meet EPA air quality requirements. “We didn’t just come together, but put money on the table,” Luff says. “Competition between the two communities has come a long way in the last 20 years. Now more than ever these communities are focused on banding together to accomplish similar goals to advance not only their respective communities but also the entire Upstate S.C. region. All 10 counties of the Upstate realize what is good for one is good for all,” says Hal Johnson of the Upstate Alliance. July/August 2009



There’s a growing number of excellent examples of sharing, collaborating and communicating in the Upstate. (These are just a few.)

The annual Diversity Dinner Program. This program is a product of the Riley Institute that rotates around the Upstate.“It’s a great opportunity for a community to show off,” Luff says. As its name implies, the dinner is an annual event that celebrates diversity and offers one Upstate community the opportunity to show itself off to several hundred members of the greater area. a shared lobbyist. For the past several years, the Upstate has had a lobbyist in Columbia, looking out for our best interests. “We now have a voice. We have feet in Columbia with an excess of 5,000 businesses represented,” Luff says. This is a great example of pooling resources to stretch dollars. The gsp taskforce.This group, which has representatives from across the Upstate, is working hard to market the airport and attract a low-cost air carrier to the region. The upstate s.c. alliance. Beginning in 2000, the region came together to create the Upstate S.C. Alliance to market and brand this region to the world.

thecompetition real is


outside. -lee luff

“Our region has come a long way in those nine years. Trust has been built and a shared understanding is out there that we as an Upstate community must do the necessary things to remain competitive in the global market. Plus recently, the Upstate Reality Check took place, which is another example of how the region has come together to focus on advancing our area and to get people to think long term,” says Hal Johnson, executive director of the Upstate Alliance. Discover upcountry carolina association. Yes, this is a tourism group. And a great example of partnering, honoring the individuality of each community in our region and leveraging that to the good of not only the community but also the region as a whole. “We want them [visitors] to stay as long as they can,” says Diane Wilson, director of Information Services for the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau.


-bob hughes

July/August 2009

Business Business Black Black Box Box

...We don,t craft the programs; we fight for our share of programs that have already been crafted to serve other constituencies.



chamber partnership/alliances.This past April, Greenville and Spartanburg chambers of commerce came together in Spartanburg. For this initial connection, the members of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce visited Spartanburg, met with members of the Spartanburg Chamber and toured the area. Both mayors attended the meeting. “We recognize that that needs to occur on a regular basis – bringing the boards together, talking common factors and issues,” says Dr. John Stockwell, chancellor of USC Upstate.

ways to


One of the keys to keeping the focus on the future and staying away from past rivalries is connecting. There are just about as many ways to do this as there are business, but a few staples are worth mentioning. Business after hours.“We all have opportunities to substantially expand our market,” says Stockwell. Every chamber of commerce in the Upstate offers some version of this. Get in there. People in every community are eager to meet others. Social Media. “It’s not your father’s Buick,” says Luff of connecting in the 21st century. And you don’t have to get in your father’s Buick or your own to connect. Social Media allow you to connect anywhere. Facebook, Twitter and others allow you to access the greater community without leaving your own town. It can be a way to get in touch with what’s going on all over the Upstate, which helps us all connect and grow. The community web portal, forthcoming in Spartanburg. Being developed in partnership with hospitals, school districts, the Spartanburg Arts Partnership, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, this portal will allow anyone who’s interested to learn about area schools, healthcare, starting a new business, chamber events, local government, and more. This project is part of Advance S.C. and one that developers hope will be a model that will be used throughout the state. “We’re sharing with the rest of the Upstate. We want to stay united,” says Osborne. “The only way to progress is to partner with each other.”

, what sthe idea


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As Greenville or Spartanburg or Anderson or any other one of the cities in the Upstate, we’re a teensy dot on the map. Together, as Osborne says, we’re a megaregion. Each community has its own identity, and that’s important. There’s more than that, though. “It’s important that we’re not afraid to talk to each other,” Luff says. When we do this, we realize there’s nothing we have to fear. He adds, “We just have to figure out how to maintain a positive market.”


July/August 2009

commuters within

to other theupstate counties

Numbers represent percentage of commuters in the Upstate who cross county lines during their commute. Taken from “Upstate Commuting Patterns� by Upstate Alliance.

we want your

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July/August 2009


don't be the deal killer by ravi sastry Ravi Sastry is president of International Innovations, a consulting firm specializing in American and Asian business and commerce. He has held senior management positions in international sales, marketing, logistics, and operations. During his 25-year career, he has lived and worked in 14 countries on three continents, forging strategic relationships with industry leaders like Bosch, IBM, McKinsey, Samsung and others.


As you look to develop your business in China, the last thing you want is to have your deal killed over a business or cultural faux pas. Whether you are expanding your own business, going to work in China for your employer, or developing suppliers, you will at some point make a trip to the Middle Kingdom and come face-to-face with the people and the culture. Rather than having an 11th-hour cram session before the trip, here are three basic tips that will ensure that you aren’t a deal killer.

.................................................................. Trust Having a suspicious attitude, being unwilling or hesitant to share information or having condescending mannerisms could immediately ruin a deal. Know what information you are willing to share and have a plan to share it prior to the trip. The last thing you want to do is give the store away, but you need to come to the table with enough information to make the potential Chinese business partner comfortable. This way they will know that you are serious about wanting their assistance.

.................................................. Culture

Guanxi (pronounced gwan-she, and meaning, relationship). Be flexible about the culture and don’t hide behind your own. Would you do business with someone that was not curious or willing to learn about American culture? It goes both ways. The key is not to go “hog wild” about each and every nuance, but to learn about the customs and history and, most importantly, to treat your future business partner with respect. The Chinese are very forgiving of lapses in cultural edict, especially in the younger generations. Also, the American visitors tend to get caught in the moment and may do things that are not normally done back home. Decide on your boundaries before you go abroad. Remember the risk in China is the same as the U.S., if not more.

.............................................................................. Work

The work is never done in China.After long hours of negotiation, do not get lured into the false hope that everything is done. The Chinese hate to say no.The language and the way discussions take place are never direct–answers are vague or even not correct since they think you are going to hear a “yes.” Knowing when “yes” means no is a cultural difference between the East and the West. We have rule of law at home. In China, your relationship is as good as the market.The best way to stay on top of your relationship is to make a concerted effort to keep it strong and lucid. Nothing is forever, and there are no guarantees that your contracts will not change. The three points above are the real “Deal Killers.” Still, there are thousands of websites and hundreds of books that will give you all the “dos and don’ts” in areas where the Chinese are more tolerant.

Here at home we want to get the deal done. In China, it’s about having patience and developing

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How the Upstate measures up In the Upstate, the medical field is a prominent one in our economy— with announcements about new doctors, more nurses, better training and teaching facilities and, of course, construction of a new medical park or hospital around every corner. But if you were to look deeper than that, what would the healthcare industry in the Upstate look like? Here are a few glimpses at what we found.

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l a t To


ls a u id v i d n I d e r u s n i n fU o %

With baselines at the total overall uninsured percentages for the nation (in red), the state of S.C. (in blue) and the Upstate (black), you can see what our uninsured population really looks like. Data taken from

July/August 2009

MEASURE OF SUCCESS Black b ox Number of Total Discharges

Average Length of Stay (Days) Our Upstate hospitals at work: showing here the total number of discharges for 2007 for all Upstate hospitals and the average length of stay per each patient.

Information taken from research generated by the Office of Research & Statistics/S.C. State Budget and Control board.

Percentage (%) of Physicians, by County

South Carolina

Abbeville Anderson Cherokee Greenville Greenwood Laurens Oconee Pickens Spartanburg Union

1.3 % 12.1 % 2.6 % 41.9 % 7.2 % 3% 4.1 % 5.8 % 20.4 % 1.5 %

Out of the entire state, over 34 percent of the physicians practice in the Upstate. Broken down, we see in detail the affect they have on our economy, per county.

July/August 2009

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Taken from The South Carolina Statistical Abstract.


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July/August 2009

by Lydia Dishman

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July/August 2009



hen Hal Johnson, president and CEO of the Upstate Alliance, reported that $2.18 billion in announced capital investment was brought into our region during 2008, he gave credit to an economic development team that included the South Carolina Department of Commerce, local economic development officials within the 10 Upstate counties, county/city council members, chambers of commerce, and his staff. No doubt it takes a dedicated group of individuals to do the hard work of building relationships with prospective corporate investors and sell them on the region. But the region itself needs to be saleable. Take one look at the snappy promotional video now occupying permanent space on the Alliance website and it’s clear: we’ve got a lot going for us. It’s cheaper to do business here; we have the third most productive workforce in the country; we have a terrific climate. You need more than strong minds, willing hands, and sunny days. You need to have good resources for transportation, meetings, and events. The Upstate has a fair share of those resources. And what we didn’t have we built or invested millions of dollars to renovate. Take the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg, a performance venue that is brand spanking new. Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport was recently expanded to meet increased demand. Still others such as the South Carolina Technology Aviation Center (SCTAC, formerly Donaldson Center) were reconfigured (but more on that later).

You need to have good resources for transportation, meetings, and events.

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Johnson’s announcement accompanied a precipitous drop in the stock market, when everyone was bracing for months of rough economic times. As companies faltered and travel and entertainment budgets were slashed, it looked as though these expanded and improved resources were not going to be the bustling venues they were planned to be. Technology had the potential to be the final nail in this coffin. Certainly the low cost of Skype, video conferencing, and even holographing have affected the number of business trips and events. But with a little creative re-positioning and good, old-fashioned sweat equity, some of these venues have turned potentially underutilized space into revenue to keep the gasping economic engine going just a little longer.

Nip and Tuck


July/August 2009

It was a bright June morning when the sweeping $22 million facelift was first revealed. The sun shone on the newly renovated Carolina First Center as a landscaping crew with leaf blowers roaring pushed aside every errant crumb of mulch, around others digging holes for rows of rose bushes and small trees, while masons continued to press stones into place on retaining walls at a rapid clip. Inside, the windows sparkled, the carpets were plush, and the halls still smelled faintly of fresh paint.

A press conference officially kicked off the first convention to be held in the updated facility’s exhibit and meeting spaces. About 450 attendees, including delegations from China, New Zealand and Canada, were there to take part in the Transforming Local Governments (TLG), a co-production of the City of Greenville and the Alliance for Innovation. In case there were still skeptics out there, Greenville’s city manager, Jim Bourey, took the podium that day to praise the renovation and confirm that the Carolina First Center was already seeing a lot of interest to book the new space over the next several years. Formerly known as the Palmetto Expo Center, the facility was purchased by the city in 2001. A subsequent hospitality tax provided $13 million to put towards improvements. Bourey estimated the Center having an annual economic impact of approximately $50 million, and he expects the number to increase. Indeed, the number of attendees for the TLG Conference was expected to be higher, but Bourey believed they would still generate $500,000 of direct spending. It was a prescient statement. John Wilusz says this first year after the improvements has been an interesting one. Despite the entire country facing an economic downturn of epic proportions, the general manager of the Carolina First Center notes that their schedule is still full of consumer shows, corporate meetings, conventions, and trade shows. There is “some softness in event demand,” but they are still being held—just may not be packing capacity crowds.Wilusz asserts, “If it were not for this economy, I think we’d be having a record year.” Was that $22 million money well-spent? Wilusz says yes. “It has been well received by customers and should result in increased demand.” Witness both the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association and the South Atlantic Regional meeting of the American Institute of Architects, coming for the first time. However, there’s more spending to be done.The brick and mortar problems have been addressed, but other behind-the-scenes issues need attention, such as the HVAC equipment and the roof. The proposed Capital Improvement Plan puts the dollar value for those repairs in the $2 million range, he notes.

“The recession got in the way, so it is hard to make a legitimate comparison [from year to year]. We have to believe the renovation has helped–it is simply hard to quantify,” Wilusz says.

Culture Club

Steve Wong, marketing director of the Chapman Cultural Center, is quick to point out that the elegant three-building campus in Spartanburg is first and foremost an arts venue. But that hasn’t stopped them from playing host to a variety of events that have nothing to do with performing art, from the Southeast Conference Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to the USC Upstate groundbreaking ceremony for the George Johnson Business School. “One of the biggest draws is that we are right in downtown with convenient parking,” says Wong. He also notes that the building’s spaces were designed with very clean lines, adaptable to any occasion. It is reasonably priced, too. Take the David Reid Theatre, for instance.With a seating capacity of 542, proscenium stage, dressing rooms, restrooms, lobby, and common areas, it would be wellsuited to a large corporate presentation or training session.The cost? For commercial clients, just $1,300 for a full day. Is it underutilized? That depends on how you look at it. The performance calendar is booked fairly solidly through June. But Wong asserts they could definitely do more in terms of marketing the facility for private events, especially “now that the economy impacted many businesses who are not doing so much off-site.” For those who are trying to save a buck, Wong offers the Chapman Cultural Center as an all-purpose, flexible destination. “We’d love to do more,” he says.

Let Us Entertain You

Glenn Brill, executive director of the Anderson Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the math of the recession has actually worked in Anderson County’s favor. “The intent to travel is not really down–people just favor shorter trips, closer to home,” he says, pointing out that the county and its resources are smack in the middle of 10 million people—all within a two-hour drive. “That helps us,” says Brill. “Two years ago when gas spiked, we had our best year at Lake Hartwell.”

And while he notes that the Anderson Sports and Entertainment complex—a 37,000-plus square-foot, multi-use facility with a conference center, exhibition hall, and entertainment arena— does 300 event days annually, including 35 weekends of sports tournaments, he admits, “the William A. Floyd Amphitheater could definitely stand to see a lot more use.” July/August 2009

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“The intent to travel is not really down–people just favor shorter trips... That helps us. “


Roger Newton, general manager of the Bi-Lo Center, will also tell you, “Business is good.” And while Greenville’s population needs to swell further to bring in acts such as Miley Cyrus (whose last concert tour commanded upwards of $250 per ticket) or the Jonas Brothers, Newton says, “Superstar artists are still selling, and family shows are still strong if they are reasonably priced.” When the Eagles came through, they set a record for gross revenue. Newton says approximately $1.4 million was generated from their sold-out show. He adds that the budget for next year will be more conservative, even though the Bi-Lo Center has had the same number of events in 2008 as they did the previous year. “The typical arena with one sports team will do 100 to 120 events per year, and we are typical,” Newton says. It’s not stopping him from reminding promoters to be aware of pricing tickets too high. “Entertainment is not a must have,” he says.

Ready for Takeoff

The travel industry has definitely experienced the fallout of the economy. Average domestic air fares in the third quarter of 2008 reached $362, the highest level for any quarter in the 13 years measured by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. But people still want and need to travel, so they are shopping the best deals and getting creative with their plans. Many opt to eschew departing from GSP International Airport in favor of driving to Charlotte or Atlanta and pocketing a difference of up to $200 on the price of a regular coach ticket. It is a fact that Gary Jackson, executive director of GSP, doesn’t deny, but he’s still looking on the bright side. Enplanements were down 15 percent through April, which he says “is a decent number and getting better because the January figures were down 23 percent. Hopefully in the latter part of this year, traffic numbers will start coming back.” For perspective, around 700,000 people flew out of GSP last year, but that number is still lower than the previous year. Jackson believes low-cost carriers are contributing to the positive trend. According to his data, Allegiant Air flights from GSP to Florida cities are averaging about 90 to 99 percent full. Jackson says there are plans to pursue other low-cost carriers to increase the competition and keep ticket prices down. “This airport is an economic engine, and companies cluster around cities that offer good air service,” he says.

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“This airport is an economic engine, and companies cluster around cities that offer good air service.”


For its part in the economic engine, Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) is the busiest general aviation airport in the state and home to more than 25 aviation-related businesses that annually contribute more than $35.2 million to the Upstate economy, according to Joe Frasher, the airport’s director. GMU doesn’t measure enplanements because they are not a commercial airport like GSP, but they do measure the number of operations (takeoffs and landings), which were down to just over 67,000 in 2008. July/August 2009

Frasher concurs with Jackson that he’s seeing a positive trend and adds that on-demand air charter service from several companies including SATSair is doing brisk business as an affordable alternative for businesses or individuals who need to get to a smaller city not served by a big commercial airport.

“We are under-utilized in a good way. We can create opportunities for capital investment and job creation. Our focus is not having more flights, but attracting industry.”

Donaldson Center, which recently got a makeover of sorts, when they changed their name to the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center (SC-TAC), has also seen the number of operations decrease in the last year. “As the name suggests, our bread and butter is the aviation industry and advanced manufacturing, and we have not seen a drop in that,” states Jody Bryson, executive director of SC-TAC. In fact, the 2,600-acre property with an 8,000-foot runway had a $222 million impact on the economy in 2006, according to Bryson, who notes that the “silver lining” for the center is its industry partners. “We are holding steady. Our revenue is not dependent on general aviation, but Donaldson Field is a major asset.” Bryson says they are developing a second runway, changing strategy, and challenging old ways of thinking about the land. “We are underutilized in a good way,” says Bryson. “We can create opportunities for capital investment and job creation. Our focus is not having more flights, but attracting industry. That is where job creation makes our impact so staggering.We are going to be very well prepared for the upturn when it happens.”

What if you could impact the local economy with a simple idea? Out of our research we came up with the top five (our top five!) locales that were challenged in filling spaces–be it rental spaces for private or public events, or simply just working space that isn’t in use. The thing is, these spaces aren’t just under-utilized– they are blank canvases ready for your ideas to help them grow. It might be a simple way they can bring in business. It might be a completely revolutionary idea that changes the direction of how they make money altogether. Or, it might be a way that business can impact the local community by offering spaces to non-profits or classroom space. Give us your ideas for these spaces! Send your ideas to us at, and we’ll feature the best ideas in an upcoming issue! Not only that, but we’ll help get the best ideas in front of the people who make the decisions–so your voice may actually impact change in the Upstate!

Anderson Sports & Entertainment Center (864) 260-4800 3027 Mall Road Anderson, SC 29625

About this Space: The William A. Floyd Amphitheater can accommodate more than 15,000 guests. The Civic Center of Anderson features a 7,700-squarefoot ballroom that accommodates 100 to 1,000 people, and a 28,000-square-foot arena that seats up to 3,200 people. A glass atrium and adjoining courtyard are also available.

Bi-Lo Center (864) 241-3800 650 North Academy Street Greenville, SC 29601

About this Space: The arena-style center houses 15,000 seats and additional spaces in luxury suites and club spaces, and can easily host large presentations or small corporate outings.

Carolina First Center (864) 233-2562 1 Exposition Drive Greenville, SC 29607

July/August 2009

Business Business Black Black Box Box

About this Space: The Carolina First Center can accommodate groups ranging from 25 to 25,000. It features 280,000 square feet of exhibit space and 60,000 square feet of meeting and conference space, including a 30,000-square-foot ballroom.


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July/August 2009

Chapman Cultural Center (864) 542-ARTS (2787) 200 East St. John Street Spartanburg, SC 29306

About this space: There are three areas available in Chapman Cultural Center: The David Reid Theatre, the Jennifer Evins Lobby, and several meeting rooms. The David Reid Theatre has a seating capacity of 542. Features available for use include a proscenium stage, dressing rooms, restrooms, lobby, common areas and free parking. The Jennifer Evins Lobby has a standing capacity of 542 with spillover available outside around the Zimmerli Plaza. There are also two rooms available, one on the ground floor and the other upstairs. Available amenities include restrooms, commons areas and free parking.

GSP International Airport (864) 877-7426 2000 GSP Drive Greer, SC 29651

About this Space: GSP International Airport has three conference rooms available for rent. The rooms vary in size; the smallest accommodates up to six people while the largest accommodates up to 32 seated at tables or 40 in theater-style seating. The two larger rooms are $40 for the first two hours and $10 for each additional hour, or $100 for a full day. The smaller room is $20 for the first two hours and $5 for each additional hour, or $50 for a full day.

Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium (864) 582-8107 385 North Church Street Spartanburg, SC 29303

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About this space: The facility features 15,000 square feet of flexible exhibit space suitable for corporate events, consumer shows, banquests, wedding receptions and other special events. The auditorium’s 163’ X 84’ exhibit hall can accomodate banquet seating for up to 1,000 and as many as 100 8’ X 10’ booths for trade or consumer shows.

July/August 2009




the 10/20/30 business rule by tony snipes Tony Snipes is director of Redemption Marketplace Alliance, a Greenville-based entrepreneurship training program, where he utilizes a unique combination of years of leadership experience in the corporate arena with ministry experience in the community. Tony has spent over a decade as an internet publishing and advertising expert, helping clients for news media companies such as the Greenville News, The St. Petersburg Times, and News Channel 7 WSPA.


Something that I discovered in a great book for small businesses called “The Art of the Start,” was what the author—venture capitalist, author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki—calls the “10/20/30 Business Rule.” I have found this process very helpful to my entrepreneur students because it takes the mystery out of writing a business strategy by streamlining the necessary content that needs to be communicated. Now, not to serve as a replacement for a start up company’s essential business plan, but I’ve seen it serve as a great method for entrepreneurs who (like most) can see in their mind the business idea that they need to communicate to potential investors, partners, or even their existing staff, but they are having difficulty articulating their concepts effectively. The meaning of the 10/20/30 Business Rule is to stimulate interest in your business concept by consolidating your presentation using: • 10 Power Point slides: consolidating your plan into key areas. • 20 minutes: gets to the point while allowing time for discussion. • 30 point font: reduces the amount of detail on the slide, getting to the point quickly. The following is how I’ve communicated the process to our students. It allows you to ask yourself the hard questions, and it provides a great working outline for a business plan:

Slide 1-Title: Who are you and what do you do? Example: “We are ACME, Inc., and we sell hardware.” Or “We sell software.”“We provide child care,” etc. Cut to the chase.

Slide 2-Problem: Describe the pain that you’re alleviating. The goal is to get everyone nodding and “buying in.”

Slide 3-Solution: Explain how you alleviate this pain and the value that you provide. Ensure that the audience clearly understands what you sell and its value to those that need it.

Slide 4-Business Model: Explain how you make money. Talk about who pays you, your distribution channels, and your gross margins.

Slide 5-The “Shock and Awe.” Describe what gives your product or approach the impact that it has. Whether it is the technology, the “secret sauce,” or whatever the dazzle is behind your product or service.

Slide 6-Marketing and Sales. Explain how you’re going to reach your customer and the marketing leverage points.

Slide 7-Competition. Provide a complete view of the competitive landscape.Too much is better than too little (within your 20-minute allotment).

Slide 8-Management Team. Describe the key players of your management team, board of directors, or advisors; the key players that provide the expertise needed for your business.

Slide 9-Financial Projections and Key Metrics. Provide a five-year forecast containing not only dollars but also key metrics, such as number of customers and conversion rates.

Slide 10-Current Status, Accomplishments to Date, Timeline, and Use of Funds. Business BusinessBlack BlackBox Box

Explain the current status of your product or service, what the near future looks like, how you plan to use the money you’re trying to raise.


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b o x 101 DAYS


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In 2008, a group of programmers met with Ravi Sastry about, a website built to strengthen locally-owned businesses in their communities. But building a website of national magnitude is no easy task—will they be able to launch it in time, or will they fall short?

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Hurdling towards disaster OR conquering the mighty competition.



the PLAN


Three Information Technology managers launched getlocalbiz. com in late 2006 and incorporated it as an LLC after developing the software over a three-year period–all the while working full-time at separate jobs. With the onset of the site launch, one of the team members—with no previous marketing experience— began asking questions like, “who would use the site,” “who was the competition,” and eventually “why did the site not expand in the initial stages,” and “what will it take to move it forward?” To answer these questions, the three technology specialists brought in a fourth player—Ravi Sastry— who saw the venture for the vast project it was, as well as its potential impact on local communities throughout the U.S.

Although was launched in 2006, the team decided its look and feel were not targeted to the right market. Built as a directory site (think yellow pages on steroids), has two targets— the customer (site user) and the businesses listing themselves in the directory. Originally, the focus of the site was on the customer, but they found that this strategy led to disconnect with small businesses— the group they were actually trying to serve. The thought was that if the site would adjust and go after small businesses and allow them to be the liaison to the customer, getlocalbiz. com would generate more revenue and expansion. In an “if you build it they will come” fashion, Ravi comments, “If we get the business, the customers will follow.” The decision to change the focus was successful and the re-launch of the site was tailored for business use (no blogs, no advertisements, and no flash), while fitted for easy customer access to business’s resources.

The goal was to update the website so when web explorers log onto they are greeted by a homepage that looks as if they are literally looking for businesses and customers in their own backyard. The belief is that this new concept will cause expansion as it enhances business accessibility and customer convenience. The cuttingedge site not only plans to further communication in the commerce industry but also between the site and its users with easy to use search, advanced search, and suggestions option features. The hope is that will catalyze correspondence between business and consumers like never seen before.

July/August 2009


Day 9: Since design and usability of the site is an integral part of its eventual success, the team has decided on a redesign. It will include not only a new look, but also a new focus–the site will be supported by the businesses listed in the directory, rather than by a “subscriber-type” customer. “The premise was to have a simple, easy-touse website for local customers and businesses,” Sastry says. “No blogs; no ads; no flash.” The redesign allows this site to be different from other primary directory sites: “In terms of function, most sites— if not all—have a static search,” Sastry explains. “You can find what you want, but the businesses cannot go after the customers with promos or other offers to build loyalty. allows these businesses to do just that, at an extremely low cost.”

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You can find what you want, but the businesses cannot go after the customers with promos or other offers to build loyalty. allows these businesses to do just that, at an extremely low cost.

Day 1: Sastry meets with the team of IT programmers to discuss what it will take to get the product live. After some discussion, they decide that $2,00 will cover the cost of the needed equipment and redesign of the site. Sastry cuts them a check with no questions asked. “This helped establish the needed amount of trust between us,” says Sastry. “Money wasn’t the issue.”

Day 11: As part of this redesign, the team brings in a person to look at the design end. Since the person they initially wanted to use is out of town for two weeks, they outsource to a designer out of Florida, due to a need for a speedy turnaround.

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Day 23: After two weeks of constantly sending emails back and forth to the designer in Florida, the team has decided to go through someone local. “Not being local turned out to be an issue,” Sastry says. “We were constantly on the phone with them or sending emails with images to fix this or that.” “It was very painful since there were a number of iterations costing us time and money…it eventually cost us almost three weeks of time.” July/August 2009


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Day 25: The first meeting with the local designer is spent transferring files and setting the stage for how the site should look under the redesign. Already behind because of delays on the back end, the team plans on a few more meetings to nail down design, turning design into code, and finalizing the look of the site.

Day 39: After all the work already done, the group gathers to decide “who is in the business.” All agree that Sastry will serve as CEO. All agree they will earn no salary for a year, and all profits will go directly back into the site.

Days 40 through 47: Over the course of one week, six meetings are held going back and forth between the team. Every single page is examined for its design and functionality, but mostly, to ensure consistency throughout the site. “To this point, everything was very inconsistent,” Sastry says. “Add to that the fact that every change had to have the whole team involved, and that most of this work was happening after hours – after five, on weekends or lunches. All of this adds to the complexity of the project.”

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Day 47: Today the team decided to extend the original deadline by three weeks, as there are still a number of technical struggles with the site. Some pages aren’t lining up right, emails to customers still aren’t working, and coupon features aren’t printing. Still, these kinds of bugs are important enough to delay launch. “The hardest part of getting this moving was not the technical part—it was the look and feel of the site—we spent so much time on that,” Sastry says. Now, he adds, it’s a matter of getting the functionality to work with the design—a challenge in and of itself.


Day 49: The group meets with Sastry’s lawyer to establish the partnership, meet him, and determine if they want to use him to represent their business.

Day 53: In an effort to get honest feedback about the design and usability of, the team decides to send a simple, 10-question survey to approximately 100 people. The survey is much like the site–easy to follow; easy to use. It is sent to people all over the U.S. and to some in other countries, including both July/August 2009

the “tech-savvy” and those who “barely know how to turn on a computer.”

Day 56: On the eve of the deadline for launch date, the team decides that the pages need more functionality. They decide to push back the launch date another few weeks, placing the newest launch date some time in April. With even more testing and bugs being found every day, the team sets up a tracking system to help manage all the pieces. The system allows a ticket to be made for each issue, and is then assigned to the person who will fix, update, delete or defer to a later date any bugs that are found.

Day 60: Another meeting is held for Sastry to explain how the company will be set up, roles and responsibilities, and explain all the documents that will need to be signed. There is also the matter of Sastry’s equity in the business. “Since they were the ones that own the programs and put their sweat equity into it for the past three years, I had to be very careful not to dilute their involvement, but at the same time ensure them that I was worth the value,” Sastry says. “Most people/companies talk about compensation at the front end and sometimes it tears the deal apart,” Sastry says. “But by this point, it is silly not to work together,” he adds, referring to the sweat equity and financial input that the team has shared. The meeting brings forth acceptable arrangements—no names (other than Sastry’s) will be made public, no one can come after their personal assets, and one of the team of four can be fired with a vote of three.

Day 63: There is more discussion of a final launch date. Because of the Indian culture of a few of the programmers, they determine that Sastry’s “luckiest time” is between April 15 and May 15. Working outside these dates is unacceptable, and they set the final launch for the end of April.

101 DAYS Black b ox

Day 93: By this point, email blasts will be sent out today to more than 750,000 customers, based on the marketing plan from Day 73.

Day 94: As of today, emails from have been temporarily held by Google and Yahoo, preventing them from going through. was listed as a SPAMMER—not good for an on-line business. After discussions with both Google and Yahoo to explain the business model, they give the team clear directions on how to properly set up the email name under their guidelines, taking off of the temporary “bad list.”

It was very painful since there were a number of iterations costing us time and money…it eventually cost us almost three weeks of time.

seven markets. An eighth email will also be crafted to re-introduce existing customers to the new functions and look.

Day 76: The team holds a marathon session to work out any remaining bugs on the site. Emails were not working throughout the site, links were not connected and showing up quickly, wording for some of the directions was not properly stated, and coupons were not printing, so they had to recreate the stats page for businesses.

Day 80: Soft launch of the website. The site works, but promotion won’t begin for another week. Still, it allows for complete testing, and for input of information before it is (hopefully) bombarded with consumers.

Day 101: Because email and spamming laws today are so vastly different from the laws three years ago, when was first built, the team has had to change their plans a bit to adhere to the legalities of running a site and email blast campaign. “We want to do things legally, and that has changed how we market the site a bit,” Sastry says. “And not only do everything legally, but also reach the people as well.” As of now, an email has been sent to all the current customers of (approximately 1,500 of them), inviting them to a free trial to experience the new site and see the completed transition. As they deal with the customers’ transition (“why do I have to pay for this now? It used to be free.”), Sastry and the rest of the team hope this base will expand exponentially as people get used to using the site and talk about it to friends and co-workers. Future plans include further marketing of the site through social media outlets—a Facebook page in the immediate future—to build viral marketing around the site. Once there is an established presence, there are other stages which will grow the site to its intended size and reach—a national directory site that will impact local communities and their effectiveness to the customer.

Day 81: Meeting with lawyer to sign all final paperwork.

July/August 2009

Do you have a business venture that you would like us to track? Drop us a note and let us know more:

Day 73: Discussions are held to determine how they will market the site. At this point, 1,500 companies are signed up, and a data file acquired at the beginning of the site build (back in 2006) divides possible clientele into seven markets: general; professional services; consumer services; real estate; manufacturers; entertainment; and current customers. The plan begins with an email blast to those in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, based on those

Day 84: As of today, the company is officially established as LLC. The launch is formal, and a plan for promotion is in place.

Day 70: The results from the survey have come in. Out of 100 sent, only about 10 are returned. Sastry decides to follow up personally, and ends up calling 75 people for their immediate response to the site. “I didn’t even let them get back to me,” Sastry says. “I had them pull it up while I was on the phone and tell me what they thought.” Overall, the response to the site has been favorable, but a few bugs have been found. One such bug—related to search functions— reveals that the search on the site returns multiple-word searches (i.e.– “pet services”) as two entries (“pet” and “services”) resulting in many unnecessary returns.



Providing design integrity, insight, and innovation for over

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Freeman & Major FREEMAN & MAJOR

Westminster Presbyterian Church Greenville, SC

864.672.0202 • One McDaniel Greene, Greenville, SC • 64

July/August 2009

A Signature Architects LLC Company


LAW Black b ox

don't get pulled under by bankrupt customers As an attorney with Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham, Andy Coburn regularly represents clients in mergers and acquisitions, corporate reorganizations, structuring of joint ventures, securities offerings and other financing transactions. 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.


In difficult economic times, companies must worry about the financial condition of their customers.The classic problem is simply delivering products or services to a customer who does not pay. But if your customer goes bankrupt, it can get even worse— you can be required to pay back to the bankruptcy trustee payments previously received from the customer. That is the bad news. The good news is that you can protect your company and reduce the risk of having to return payments to bankrupt customers. Payments that a bankruptcy trustee can reclaim are called “preference payments.” Only certain payments by a bankrupt customer are preference payments. To be a preference payment, the payment generally must be: made to a creditor; on account of a pre-existing debt; while the customer was insolvent; within 90 days before the bankruptcy filing; and enabled the creditor to receive more than it would have through the normal bankruptcy process.

............................................................................. What happens?

A preference claim is the claim that the bankruptcy trustee files against your company, claiming that you have received a preference payment that you must pay back. If the claim is valid, then your company must return the payment to your bankrupt customer. The amount that you pay back will be used, together with any other assets that the customer has, to satisfy all of the customer’s outstanding debts.Your company will have a bankruptcy claim against your customer for the amount you paid back.You may recover some of that amount in the bankruptcy proceedings, but you will typically get only a fraction of the amount, if anything.

by andy coburn

this, you should contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney if you are contacted about a preference payment, even if the trustee merely sends you a letter rather than filing a formal claim.

.............................................................................. How do I avoid this?

Probably the two most effective strategies for protecting yourself against preference claims are switching payment to cash-beforedelivery and ensuring that you receive payments from customers in the “ordinary course of business.” With cash-before-delivery transactions, goods or services are paid for before they are shipped or provided. Because payment occurs prior to performance, the payment is not “on account of a pre-existing debt,” which is one of the requirements for a preference payment. Obviously, you may find it impossible to get cash-before-delivery terms except in unusual circumstances. The more readily available defense therefore is the “ordinary course of business” defense. That defense is available when the payment at issue was made in the ordinary course of business between you and your customer or in accordance with ordinary business terms. This means that if no unusual circumstances accompanied the payment – such as a change in credit terms or unusual pressure from the creditor – the payment likely would not be subject to a valid preference claim. The cleanest situation is when you and your customer have agreed on payment terms in writing, and you can show that all of the payments that you have received from the customer were made in accordance with those terms. Changing payment terms, formally or in practice, when a customer is in difficult circumstances can make it more difficult to use this defense.


What do you do if a preference claim is filed against you?

If a preference claim is made against you by a bankruptcy trustee, that certainly does not mean that the claim is valid. You need to contact an attorney familiar with preference claims. That attorney can determine whether or not the payment in question is a preference claim and advise you of what you need to do to respond. If you do not respond in a timely manner to a preference claim, you can lose your ability to contest the claim—which means that trustee can obtain a judgment against you for the amount of the payment even if it really was not a preference payment. Because of

Feedback Brainstorm, advise and weigh in when you visit

July/August 2009




Floree Hill wants her laundry business to continue to expand in her community. Does her pitch have what it takes to get her to the next level? Floree Hill Owner, M & T Laundry and More Founded: February 1996

How she tells it: I am Floree Hill, owner of

M & T Laundry and More, established February 8, 1996. M & T originally started as a small laundry service intended for residential accounts and has grown solely through word-of-mouth referrals. M & T fills a unique niche in the market, providing affordable, professional and expert laundry services that cost users less than they would spend at a standard dry cleaner while offering much better results. At M & T, our overall strategy is to provide quality care service to every area of laundry. Additionally, saving our customers valuable time – since there never seems to be enough – is the cornerstone of M & T Laundry and More. Laundering clothing and linens is one of people’s least-favorite and timeconsuming, yet necessary chores. It is in this area that M & T Laundry will be an asset to individuals and businesses alike helping them run more smoothly by lifting their laundry burden. We provide customers with quality care for their garments, including handwashing and ironing. Not only will this save them time, but they will save even more in the long run because their clothing will last longer.

Brainstorm, advise, weigh in.

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What They Say...


“The idea of someone lifting my laundry burden is very appealing. However, my initial reaction to this pitch is why should I choose M & T Laundry and More? Statements such as “providing affordable, professional and expert laundry services that cost users less…” are very generic and could be claimed by any business. That is expected by customers. What makes M & T different? Is there a special process or technique used that make it better than the competition? For example, are natural ingredients used instead of harsh chemicals? Do you pick up and deliver? What is the “more” as noted in the name of the business? July/August 2009

One suggestion is to take a nostalgic approach such as “We do laundry like your grandmother did.” Seriously, how many people actually take time to iron their clothes these days? Use language that makes your target audience actually feel the crispness of a freshly ironed cotton shirt, and smell that wonderful scent of linens that have been drying in the sun on a clothes line. In other words don’t just tell the obvious.” BJ Nash President Nash Network Public Relations & Marketing

“It’s time to take advantage of the hard-fought commercial foundation you have established. Today, your revenues are mainly generated by direct labor, you hold on to customers by providing quality service and I’m sure that you’ve developed a reputation for being the expert at what you do. So, your goal ought to be to increase revenue by taking advantage of what you’ve been able to do to this point, with minor increase of risk and virtually no new overhead expenses. Consider increasing your income without increasing labor or overhead by notching-up the premium aspect of your service by linking your operation and word-of-mouth advertising to a high-quality product line

that is integral to your service. You will want to modestly increase your prices to reflect the change. However, your loyal customers will enjoy knowing, even bragging about, the fine detergents and products you use. Then, you can begin to offer some of these products for sale the same way that hair salons use point-of-sale as an opportunity for increasing sales.You may lose the occasional customer getting started but will likely attract numbers of new customers to your higher-end offering. The result could be more income and more time to think about expanding your reach.” Greg Hillman Zone Manager SC Launch!

Bentley Ad

NEXT is a collaborative that attracts and supports highimpact entrepreneurs in the Upstate of South Carolina. NEXT offers a number of resources to its members and to the outside community, including:


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• Concierge services • Infrastructure development • Advocacy 401 University Ridge • Greenville, SC 29601 864.239.3711 May/June 2009

July/August 2009


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July/August 2009

Consider this: with a national turnover rate of around 25 percent, employee retention is a big deal. Add to it new generations entering the workforce with much different priorities on life balance and vastly different values on why they work where they work, and why they leave when they leave. Culture. It’s the difference between simply abiding by labor laws and creating a work environment that people crave. It’s the difference between hiring people and getting – and keeping – the best of the best. It’s the reason Jack leaves – or stays.

July/August 2009

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By Noelle Coyle


In South Carolina, there are labor laws each employer must abide by for every employee.These include, but are not limited to, issues such as wages and hours, holidays, worker compensation, safety regulations, and time off. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected time off for maternity leave or serious illness of the employee or their family members. There are businesses throughout the Upstate, however, that do more than simply follow the law. These businesses are doers and are creating unique cultures that attract and retain a healthy workforce.

wellness factor the

QS/1, a pharmaceutical software company in Spartanburg, offers incentives that place a large emphasis on the wellness of its employees. For example, if an employee works out at a gym frequently and keeps a log of their work out, they receive $100 each quarter. QS/1 is a division of the JM Smith Corporation, and as such, it is able to help its employees receive $1 generic prescriptions through any pharmacist. The company also has an on-site nurse practitioner who conducts free health screenings for all employees and their spouses. “Wellness is important not only to QS/1 but to all divisions of the JM Smith Corporation because healthy employees are productive employees,” says Gary Krafft, director of human resources. Other benefits offered by QS/1 include two annual bonuses, profit sharing, and tuition reimbursement. In addition, the company will pay 100 percent of an employee’s salary for up to 60 days while they are out for issues such as maternity leave or an accident or illness. “[This type of culture] is important because our human capital is how we provide quality products and services to our customers across the country,” Krafft says. “Without our people, we could not get this work done.”

your own business own

A key incentive at GBS Lumber in Anderson is its status as an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) company, says HR Manager Lawanna Dendy. In fact, employees own about 90 percent of the company.


employee = growth

live the

work “hardplay hard mentality

Rewards for the employees include massages and the Yowza award, which recognizes an employee for going out of their way for someone else, whether it be another employee or a client. The award, which in the past has been as simple as $20 or as grand as a weekend trip to Asheville, N.C., is presented every Friday during the company’s family meeting. On the more traditional spectrum, the company offers full medical, dental, and vision plans; 401K with full matching and safe harbor; short- and long-term disability; and life insurance. As for time off, employees who have worked less than five years receive 12 vacation days, five sick days and 11 holidays. “All the things we do here make us a stronger company every day,” Conway says. “We would not be Brains on Fire if we did not do what we do.” Conway says it’s important for those who are on the outside looking in to know that it’s not all fun and games though. “People see the fun side but don’t see the hard work that goes on every day,” she says. “(But) maybe they shouldn’t; maybe it should look effortless. Maybe we should look like swans on the water, and you don’t see the feet pedaling and pedaling.”

July/August 2009

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The identity and rebranding company is the epitome of flexibility. Although they have traditionally set working hours, Kathie Conway has never missed any of her son’s games. “If I leave at 4 p.m. to make it to Liberty to be at a football game, I stay late another day to get my work done,” the company CFO says. It’s not unusual to find Brains on Fire employees walking downtown for a cup of coffee

or hanging out in their modern office space strumming guitars. Conway says this unique atmosphere and flexibility helps their creativity flow. “[This type of culture] is important for the creative energy,” she says. “The ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality is really true for this industry… I think that when they are expected to deliver so much all the time and their level of work is so amazing, then they should be given that much.”

The company, which furnishes lumber supplies to small and medium home builders, also offers a number of monetary incentives. Their employee referral program rewards employees with $250 if they refer someone to the company. Employees who work in safety-sensitive areas are rewarded with $150 each year as long as they don’t have any reportable accidents within that year. And in an effort to promote wellness, the company had its own Biggest Loser contest in which the winner won $250. “We try to tailor to our employees and their needs so they will be happy employees and stay for the long haul,” Dendy says. The employees participate in surveys that evaluate the company’s communication and workflow. “Most feedback has been positive and helpful in our endeavor to create an ownership culture,” she says. A recent survey revealed “we were on target with communications,” she adds. “In addition, we received constructive feedback for improvements that we plan to work towards.” Julie Godshall Brown, owner and president of Godshall and Godshall Personnel Consultants, Inc., says businesses can build a culture of loyalty by going above and beyond common labor laws. “The goal is profitability,” she says. “To keep the client happy, the number one rule is to keep your employees happy. … It’s more of an attitude than it is a policy oftentimes.” A good example of this type of attitude can be found at Brains on Fire in Greenville.


4culture ideas to help create

There’s a lot of talk around the corporate world about building a successful culture within your company. The times of flying solo are long gone in today’s business circles and the team approach definitely builds morale, keeps employees motivated, and generally makes the work environment more enjoyable. Here are just a few fundamentals of having and developing a successful team culture...

1. Follow up.

This can really save a TON of time. “Yes. I got this. It will be done by____.” Too much time is spent following up with your team members if you don’t let them know you received that email, voicemail or memo.

2. Set meetings and keep them.

Everyone has a full calendar. Show respect for your team members and show up on time. Do you show up late for meetings with clients or customers? If not, then your team members deserve the same respect. Come to meetings ready to receive direction, assign tasks, and execute on them in a timely manner.

3. Minimize interruptions.

“Hey! You got a minute?” This can be a huge issue for leaders with busy schedules. Some CEOs always say, “Yes! For you I have a minute...just not THIS minute.” Schedule a 15-minute meeting with your immediate boss or team leader. It shows them you respect their time and in turn, they will respect yours.

4. Cover your teammates.

Don’t be the first to blame others for something not getting done, missing a deadline, or messing up a project. Take responsibility if you messed up and always be the first to cover your team members. You never know when you’ll need them to cover for you!

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- Missy Nowack


July/August 2009

at a

glance Upstate business leaders offer their advice on how to create a unique culture for your employees

“The top has to be open to letting go. (The Brains on Fire leadership) are great at letting decisions be made by others, at not taking themselves seriously, and truly being supportive and caring about others. If you’re not that type of person, then you can’t create this culture.You can put it on paper, but you have to live it.” Kathie Conway, CFO of Brains on Fire

“Have a general understanding of their strategic goal of the company. Communication is key; do a survey, maybe focus groups, network, find out what’s going on in the industry… That will give them a lot of information on where to start.”

Lawanna Dendy, HR Manager of GBS Lumber

“I would encourage any company to take a hard look at the most important thing that they have going for them, which is their human capital. …Ask the questions to see where the answers lead them.”

Gary Krafft, Director of Human Resources

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“Look to their workforce and ask questions. Better understand your employees to allow you to align your offerings to their needs. Depending on the makeup of your workforce, their needs could be very different.” Julie Godshall Brown, Owner and President of Godshall and Godshall Personnel Consultants Inc.

July/August 2009



b o x KIDBIZ

give your child the "gift of want"

by tony snipes

Tony Snipes is director of Redemption Marketplace Alliance, a Greenville-based entrepreneurship training program, where he utilizes a unique combination of years of leadership experience in the corporate arena with ministry experience in the community. Tony has spent over a decade as an internet publishing and advertising expert, helping clients for news media companies such as the Greenville News, The St. Petersburg Times, and News Channel 7 WSPA. Tony’s three daughters offer him a unique perspective that he brings to KidBiz.

.............................................................................. Lately I’ve been reading a phenomenal book that I believe defines the concept of encouraging kids to participate in business. Within the book, I was introduced to a simple, yet profound thought that must not be overlooked if you really want to raise a young entrepreneur: Troy Dunn, author of Young Bucks: How to Raise a Future Millionaire, calls it “giving your kids the gift of want.” Dunn describes the gift of want as the ability for your child to want something and figure out a way to get it. It is the key to your child feeling empowered to create his or her own method of earning money for the things that he or she desires rather than being limited to relying on others. Let’s face it, our kids always want stuff! When they discover that running their own business venture can be the key to getting that game, those sneakers or whatever else they want, they will be motivated to repeat and grow the process. Picture your child brainstorming on business ideas that can earn them money for the newest computer game rather than brainstorming on methods to persuade you to buy it for them. Now, there is a challenge that comes with teaching your kids the gift of want, and it depends on what end of the economic spectrum you are on.

Business Black Box

“You call that a gift?”


Some of you who are on a tight family budget may see the “gift of want” as the farthest thing from being a gift. Being able to give our children what they want is a desire all parents share. The challenge is that we must not paint a dark picture about having limited income for your young entrepreneur. The temptation to dismiss your child’s desire for something because you may not have the money to spare is what you want to refrain from. Instead of responding with a reminder about how money doesn’t grow on trees, respond with charging your child to explore ways that they can create their own business success.

July/August 2009

Resist the Urge to Splurge

The other side of the spectrum is for those of you who are blessed to be able to give your child everything that they could want. The caution you must take is to resist the urge to splurge on your children, denying them the opportunity to rely on their own creative ideas and initiatives to obtain what they want. Always being the answer so your child’s wants denies your young entrepreneur the opportunity of relying on his or her own ideas, gifts and talent. This is a key element of the entire entrepreneurial experience. Equipping your child with the gift of want will teach your child that they have the freedom to rely on their own creativity and gifts to achieve success rather than being limited to relying on others.

KIDBIZ Black b ox


In our May/June issue,Tony talked about letting your child build a blog. Cole, a six-year-old from Greenville, took us up on this idea, bugging his dad, Dan, to help him set it up. In his blog, Cole talks about everything from his favorite books to posing questions about “Why People Steal.” Through it all, he’s learning stuff, too, like how to use a thesaurus (, he reminds us) and how to keep information moving (the most basic need of anyone’s blog!). We challenge you to follow Cole’s Cool Blog at http://www.colescoolblog. He’s already learning a ton of new stuff, and we hope you’ll show him some support and send him some cool new ideas.

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acknd b d e Fe orm, advise ua visit

o st iz Brain in when y om/KidB c . h weig lackBox eB Insid July/August 2009 75



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What is the most important marketing tool during a recession?


There is solid proof that companies that continue to market themselves well during an economic downturn thrive after the recession is over. But with tight budgets and so many options, what’s the best option to choose? July/August 2009

STATUS CHECK Black b ox Your people and their ability to work smarter and harder than your competition. Get aggressive

with your sales plan of attack and work that plan. Everyone employed at your company must be wearing a sales hat—without sales there is no company. Marketing simply supports the sales efforts, and in this poor economy you better be a guerilla and do things differently than you have before. Companies are still buying but buying less, and it is more competitive than ever before. Smile and dial yourself out of the recession. Patrick VanEvery Senior Account Executive, Wastequip

Creating or engaging the community, whether offline or online. Engaging people is so important now,

Online, I think communities that already exist like Twitter and Facebook are great places to either jump into a niche that is already there or create your own. I know social media may sound redundant, but it’s dirt cheap and can bring positive results when done right. The important thing with this is not just to jump in, but analyze. Test these things for success and ROI [return on investment] before jumping in head first.

everyone rowing in the same direction? Marketing can do more than “support” the sales effort—they could pre-qualify, do followup autopsy when a sale is lost or not closing. Look at low-cost or “no-cost” tools that you are using to do things differently. I agree, keep advertising your product, but make sure that when that phone rings you close a sale, or are at least moving one step closer in the process. I still believe analysis is key to determining what you can do more of to get more of what you want! Hank Merkle Market Sales Engineer, ITW Shakeproof

Find “what

works and do more of it.

Spencer Spellman Social Media and Mobile Manager, 10Best

I am a simple guy. For those of us in the service business, it is first networking, then networking, and in addition, networking—utilizing every channel available. For those that sell products, advertising

Your best marketing tool during a downturn is to stay in touch— with clients, with prospects, and with your business partners. Now

is the best time not to hunker down and ride out the storm. Stay visible and keep marketing and advertising! Utilize tools such as online networks, but also encourage your employees to “personally” connect to clients. Technology certainly cannot replace a personal relationship but can support it. Julie Brown Owner, Godshall & Godshall Personnel Consultants

You have to keep your existing customers happy and engaged with you and your business. I feel this

is also a good time to look at tying more customer contact with some level of social networking so you can enable your existing customers to help you get more. Keep your existing customers happy, keep pushing forward, and see what new, creative ways you can market your business, solving problems other businesses are having trouble within the economy. Joe Milam Owner, BigLeap GPS

Sales must go on! Marketing is the “support structure” for efficient selling... Manfred Gollent Executive Coach, QLI International

Join the discussion! Join our group— Business Black Box—on LinkedIn to give us your feedback on this and many other subjects!

July/August 2009

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should be the ticket, especially considering the fact that many companies cut back on advertising (strategically a very questionable move!), which makes the impact for those that keep it going even more valuable.

and there is no other way to do this than with community. Although it causes you to be more vulnerable, it allows you to connect on a deeper level. People now don’t just want to experience the same marketing ploys that are masked and superficial. They want something real.

Analyze what you have done that has been successful and do more of it, analyze what hasn’t and do more of the successful stuff! Is



Photography by Conrad LaRosa

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July/August 2009


avid Pence built a high-tech business the old fashioned way—one relationship and one consulting job at a time. The founding partner and CEO of Acumen I.T. is quick to point out that old-school thinking developed at the tender age of 19.That’s when Pence put himself through Clemson employing what he calls the co-operative engineering method: spend one semester at school, then work for another. “It’s a great way to do it,” he says. He learned a lot, both in school and from working with other companies, but the exposure to professional computer consultants from the likes of Sun Microsystems planted a seed he would later grow into his company. Pence observed that those hired guns were paid substantial hourly wages to do short-term projects. Puzzling over whether it was worth it for a company to hire such an expensive expert, he began to understand what return on investment really meant. “When you need an expert getting out there and helping people, you don’t need them all the time,” he says. It justified the expense to a busy executive that didn’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves, or the resources to hire a full-time staffer. So from humble beginnings in his bonus room, Pence started his own company to provide those experts. Though Pence worked at a variety of companies as a trainer and consultant along the way, he finally made Acumen I.T. an official entity in 1999. Pence maintains that his travels to other cities and countries and through other corporate cultures just solidified his mission and vision.“It’s really simple, we look at what the customer needs, regardless of the product,” he says. Acumen I.T.’s culture doesn’t allow for making the sale at any cost. Despite technology flooding the market with new choices every day, Pence says he’s striving to help them make sense of it all. “When our staff visits, they are constantly in the mode of how to make [the customer’s business] more efficient.Whether it helps us or not, we are interested in being the trusted advisor for our customer.” Over the years they’ve developed a loyal following, some of whom won’t purchase any technology from another vendor without first clearing it through Acumen. “It is a privilege,” he asserts. The company is growing by leaps and bounds, recently earning the No. 12 spot on the Fastest Growing Companies in the state as calculated by the S.C. Chamber of Commerce.Though the numbers are even stronger this year, Pence maintains that he’ll continue to turn away potential investors in order to stay true to Acumen’s culture. “They want to change who you are,” he says, and believes he can continue to blaze new trails with stick-to-itiveness. With no plans to quit any time soon, Pence does have one goal he’d like to add to his bucket list. “I really love the Upstate. I hope that on my tombstone there is a bright little star that says ‘David Pence helped South Carolina be technically competent and competitive in the global market place.’”

Watch the full interview at



Started as I.T. developer and networking consultant for his own business, Acumen Design and Consulting


Graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Computer Engineering Program Manager for Continuing Ed. at Greenville Technical College


I.T. Administrator & Consultant Technical Resource Group


Microsoft Systems Engineer and Certified Trainer, IKON Technology Services


Technical Director, New Horizons Training Centers


Chief Executive Officer, Acumen I.T.


Chief Executive Officer,

Profile by Lydia Dishman

Acumen I.T.’s Accolades and Distinctions Microsoft Gold Partner Juniper Elite Partner Dell Enterprise Partner Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year 2007 S.C. Chamber and Elliot Davis No. 12 Fastest Growing Company 2008

July/August 2009

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Microsoft Juniper Dell Greenville Chamber S.C. Chamber




upstate chamber coalition answer to regional advocacy John DeWorken is the vice president of public policy and lobbyist for the Greenville, Spartanburg, Greer, Cherokee, Greenwood and Anderson Chambers of Commerce, serving 6,300 members through these Upstate Chambers. John is a member of the advisory council for Business Black Box, advising on topics pertaining to politics and public policy.

Business Black Box



Our state enjoys three distinctly different economies, by region. The economy of the Coastal area is driven by tourism and business dollars; the economy of the Midlands—in particular, Columbia— is driven by government (USC, Ft. Jackson, state and federal government agencies); and the Upstate’s economy is driven by business. Knowing that, the Upstate’s needs are unique and different from the rest of the Palmetto State, and because of that, the Upstate must have an entity that advocates for its business interests. That need is crystal clear. So, with the leadership of many of the Upstate chambers of commerce, their staff and volunteers, a group has emerged whose sole purpose is to represent Upstate business interests at the South Carolina State House. Known as the Upstate Chamber Coalition, this alliance represents 6,300 Upstate businesses from many different chambers of commerce located in the Upstate–namely, the chambers of Greenville, Spartanburg, Greer, Anderson, Cherokee and Greenwood. Though each chamber comes up with their own legislative agenda to increase business competitiveness, what is interesting is that 95 percent of those issues on each of the chambers’ legislative agendas are the same. In other words, though each chamber goes through its own distinct method of establishing its agenda, they are all primarily the same— what is important to businesses in Greenwood is most likely important to businesses in Cherokee. For example, in 2009, Upstate chambers listed affordable health care, tort reform, workers’ compensation reform, road funding, comprehensive tax reform, economic development incentives, energy, and education as some of the issues that must be addressed for businesses to create more jobs and be more successful. However, there are some issues that arise in chambers that are not important in others. For obvious reasons, lake levels are

by john deworken

more important to folks in Anderson than they are for business leaders in Cherokee. But so far, in the five years that Upstate Chambers have worked together on legislative issues, no two issues have conflicted among chambers. Regional advocacy is important to the Upstate because it has given Upstate legislators a better opportunity to work together on issues important to the Upstate. In recent years, the Upstate has lost some powerhouse legislators, such as Senator Verne Smith, Speaker David Wilkins, and Senator John Drummond. These individuals could twist arms with the best of them in the State House. Now, many leadership positions are located in the Lowcountry, such as the Governor, Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tempore, and Senate Finance Chairman. Many Upstate legislators are new to the State House, meaning they have less seniority. It is imperative that the Upstate Chamber Coalition assists the new members to team up with the veterans in the Upstate, such as Senators Peeler, Fair, O’Dell, and Martin, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Jeff Duncan. It is important for them to work together to meet the needs of the Upstate and its unique economy. A good example of this vital teamwork came earlier this year.The Upstate business community had been calling for the Legislature to pass a bill that would establish a committee to look at the entire tax system, which then would make recommendations to the General Assembly. These recommendations would tell the General Assembly where the state’s tax code is competitive with other states and where it is not. Unfortunately, there were many House members who did not want to look at the tax code comprehensively. They simply wanted to look at sales tax exemptions. Knowing that the Upstate business community had been calling for a comprehensive approach, Upstate legislators teamed up with House Democrats to pass a comprehensive approach to studying the tax code. Without that teamwork, that particular need of the Upstate would not have pushed through the House. At the end of the day, the regional approach to advocacy involves more teamwork among Upstate business leaders, Upstate chamber staff, and, most importantly, more teamwork among Upstate legislators who will work more often across county lines to meet the needs specific to the Upstate.

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treasure ship recovery operation didn’t make the cut, but a technology accelerator company did. Entrepreneurs looking for funding from UCAN have to get by Matt Dunbar first. As the managing director, he’s the initial gatekeeper providing access to a group of about 50 investors ready to hand out hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy business ventures. In 2009, UCAN has seen an uptick in requests for funding, compared to 2008. Dunbar attributes some of that to an increased awareness in UCAN’s purpose, but also partially because funding at traditional lenders is more difficult to come by. Dunbar screens every application that comes in through UCAN’s website, weeding out the ones that don’t fit the group’s main criterium: quick growth. “We’re looking for very unique, fastgrowth start-ups,” he says. “A rule of thumb is, while we don’t screen on industry, we want to see businesses that have the opportunity to grow really fast.” And by “really fast” he means businesses with the potential to generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue within three to five years.

“A rule of thumb is, while we don’t screen on industry, we want to see businesses that have the opportunity to grow really fast.” And by “really fast” he means businesses with the potential to generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue within three to five years. If you get by Dunbar, he shares the idea with a screening committee comprised of a few UCAN members. With the committee’s approval, the entrepreneur pitches the plan in front of the entire group during a monthly meeting and the investors take a vote. Of the 25-or-so business ideas submitted each month, only four to six receive funding each year. Dunbar admits the chances are slim, but the rewards are great for those with the best ideas. “Primarily folks will come to us because we are a risk capital source that will consider the investment at an earlier stage or with a higher risk than other lenders would,” he says. While competition is tough, Dunbar says there are things entrepreneurs can do to stand out to angel investors. One suggestion is to receive a personal reference from someone associated with the group. “It gives them more awareness than they would coming

through our website,” he says. Also, do some research and make sure your application is free of typos and errors.“If you indicate to us you haven’t put a lot of time and thought into the application process, we’re going to have a hard time taking you seriously,” Dunbar says. And if you don’t make the cut, don’t worry, Dunbar says. “There are a lot of resources out there,” he says. “You just have to beat the bushes.” Dunbar says many people aren’t aware of lending options available through the Appalachian Development Corporation (ADC). A daycare center, an obstetrician’s office, and a manufacturer of fiber for bulletproof vests were all recent recipients of financing through ADC, who works with local financial institutions to help fund economic development projects that create jobs and tax base. “We use public money that we’ve gotten through various sources such as the Department of Agriculture, Small Business Administration, and the state of South Carolina to work with anything from retail businesses to manufacturing industrial enterprises,” says ADC Chief Operating Officer and Vice President David Mueller. But ADC doesn’t normally fund any project completely.Typically a financial institution is involved and contributes half of the loan, 40 percent comes from ADC, and the applicant must contribute 10 percent. Loan amounts start at $50,000. Not unlike Dunbar, Mueller says requests dropped off during the fourth quarter of 2008, but have picked up slightly in 2009. “Since the first of the year we’ve seen an increase because lenders— particularly community institutions—are willing to try to find ways of accomplishing projects, and then they remember there are public funds we can bring in to reduce our risk to a secondary lender, which is us,” explains Mueller.

And if you don’t make the cut, don’t worry, Dunbar says. “There are a lot of resources out there,” he says. “You just have to beat the bushes.” Business Black Box

The Economic Recovery Act also created changes that make loans less risky for lenders. Before the stimulus package, the average guarantee for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans was 75 percent. Now most loans are guaranteed up to 90 percent. And now there has been a temporary elimination of loan guarantee fees, which equals a savings of $7,500 on a $250,000 loan for the borrower. “Lending is just not available like it was in the past,” says SBA District Director Elliott Cooper. “That’s why Congress passed this portion of the stimulus bill, so we can hopefully reenergize our July/August 2009


lending programs.” Still, the SBA doesn’t process loans directly, but works to market and train lenders across the state so they understand what they have to offer. In the first four months of 2009, the South Carolina SBA worked on 175 loan requests, guaranteeing $54.7 million worth of financing. During that same time period in 2008, the SBA worked on 449 requests, guaranteeing $114.7 million. “Certain lenders have pulled back from making loans,” says Cooper. “We’re hoping that will grow.” In order to have the best chance at receiving a loan, Cooper suggests developing a business plan that will help the lender understand where the business is headed. Entrepreneurs should start at the bank where they have checking or savings accounts first. If that doesn’t work, give his office a call. “If people call us, we try to give them two or three lenders to go see,” he says.

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Local banks may be yet another option for the small business looking for funding. Larry Miller, CEO of Greenville-based Independence National Bank, says they have funds available for small businesses, but in order to qualify, applicants must bank there. Another factor is how long the applicant has been in business. “While the credit criteria are generally the same, we look at the age of the business.”


July/August 2009

Miller says requests have remained steady, but some projects aren’t qualifying. “We’re looking at loans differently today,” says Miller. “We are not making any acquisition and development loans in real estate, as an example.” But because Independence National Bank has always been a prudent lender, Miller says their underwriting standards haven’t changed. If your odds don’t look good, Miller says the decision is rendered quickly. “If we tell clients ‘no’ we like to give clients a quick response,” says Miller. “And then, if there is an alternative outside the banking industry we can provide, we generally try to give them options.”

Check This Out

We ran across—a website that offers a lot of resources and research for businesses of all sizes. The home page gives you three options: search for funding, access business credit options, and manage your account. Hit “search funding sources” and you’ll get a quick form to fill out and it will immediately lead you to some options – all pulled from their bank of more than 4,000 sources. Better yet? It’s all free – perfect for anyone who’s looking to get money, instead of spend it.

While Miller wouldn’t offer up advice on whether this is a good climate for starting a business, Dunbar believes it is. “This is a great time as any to be an entrepreneur. It may be better,” he says. “If you’ve got the team, the concept, and a market you can tackle or create, we encourage those entrepreneurs to do their thing because ultimately we feel that’s what’s going to drive our economy forward in the years ahead.”

Looking for Money? Check these options out: LOCAL Appalachian Development Corporation ( Makes business loans in six Upstate counties for projects that create jobs and tax base

SC Launch ( Offers up to $200,000 in seed funding for technology and high-growth companies.

Upstate Carolina Angel Network (

“If you’ve got the team, the concept, and a market you can tackle or create, we encourage those entrepreneurs to do their thing because ultimately we feel that’s what’s going to drive our economy forward in the years ahead.”

Offers seed funding to select startups or early stage ventures in fast growing markets.

GOVERNMENT/NATIONAL ACCION USA ( A non-profit offering loans of up to $50,000 for business owners who are not able to obtain traditional loans.

Small Business Innovation Research Program ( Awards funds to American-owned for-profit businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Small Business Technology Transfer Program ( sbir/sbirstir/SBIR_STTR_DESCRIPTION.html) Similar to SBIR, but to qualify business must also include a non-profit research program.

USDA Rural Development ( Various loans and grants to facilitate development of small private businesses.

FOR VETERANS Provides financial assistance for veterans building their own enterprises.

The Veterans Corporation ( Provides loans and funding for veteran entrepreneurs. July/August 2009

Business Black Box

Veterans Business Outreach (


HR Black

b o x HR

understanding & capitalizing on the changing face of work

Julie Godshall Brown has spent the last 14 years running her family business, Godshall and Godshall Personnel Consultants, Inc., which specializes in direct hire and contract staffing solutions in healthcare, legal, financial, accounting, technical, and other professional markets. Julie holds a Masters in Personnel and Employee Relations from USC and a Bachelor’s in Marketing from Clemson University.

Business Black Box



Some reports conclude that the average worker will work for upwards of a dozen employers before they are 50! Competitive forces are squeezing our bottom line and challenging our workforce more than ever. The Society of Human Resource Management estimates the cost to replace an employee at two to three times their annual salary (or more), meaning that we must not only hire the best, but keep the best, and train employees to serve our clients to the best of their ability. What’s a business to do? Consider this: our grandparents often grew up working for a family farm or business.They learned their work ethic directly from their parents and other extended family members. They were loyal for a lifetime. In our parents’ generation, most individuals worked in the same profession for the same company for most of their career. From the 1960s through the 1980s, working the same profession for multiple companies throughout a career was the norm. Yet today’s top professionals and those in the generations to come are predicted to have an “independent agent” attitude about their careers. I don’t use the term in the legal form of independent contractor but rather to demonstrate that we are hiring sharp young adults who recognize that they must take charge of their own career development and view themselves as their own agent, controlling their career destiny. A 2006 American Staffing Association study by Steve Bertram, Vice President, estimates that

July/August 2009

by julie godshall brown

growth in the contract and temporary sector has grown more than 70 percent in the past decade.This number is expected to grow exponentially during the next decade, due in part to changing attitudes towards work. Contract workers mention their own desire for skill development as a key reason for working on a contract basis. It has become apparent that our generation will not only have multiple employers, but must prepare for multiple careers in their lifetime. This trend from a paternalistic employer-employee model to an agent model will continue to vastly change how we recruit, motivate, coach, and distribute the actual work to be accomplished. A May 2009 study completed by Thomas Britt, an industrial-organizational psychology professor at Clemson University, outlines his research in “Amplifying the Relationships Between Organizational Constraints and Outcomes,” currently under review at the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. “Engaged workers are more likely to place importance on being able to perform well because their performance matters to them ahead of corporate loyalty,” Britt said. In other words, engagement is only effective at retention to the extent that the engaged worker feels that they have the organizational support necessary to be successful and rewarded in their role.

.............................................................................. We must, then, ask ourselves the following:

1. Does our company tailor its recruiting methods to attract today’s best and brightest? (Hint: your current employees want to work for a positive “brand” as well.) 2. How can we cost effectively train employees who may not be lifetime employees? 3. Have we reviewed and revised our benefit plans and policies to improve our ability to attract and retain the employees we need today? 4. Does our organization understand the full cost of turnover in a knowledge-based business environment? When we experience turnover, how do we ensure that intellectual capital does not walk out the door? 5. How do we coordinate the distribution of work so that employees are continually engaged and learning? 6. Do we have a formal or informal mentor program that provides support to high potential employees? 7. Is career development a priority or is it an afterthought? 8. Are we asking for and providing a comfortable means for feedback from our employees? 9. Do we appropriately acknowledge and reward our most valued employees? 10. Do we analyze why we lose valued employees? Employers of choice know that keeping employees engaged, learning, supported, rewarded and growing is key to retaining valuable employees. Regardless of the economic climate, demand for top talent is always high, so to keep top performers providing value to our organizations, we must capitalize on our understanding of the evolving workforce.

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SALES Black b ox

completing the sales cycle: establishing your "unique value proposition" by todd korahais

Todd Korahais currently serves as Operating Partner for Keller Williams Realty. He has successfully built three different businesses and at age 31 sold his first business to a publicly traded company. His community involvement includes several board positions and leadership roles in civic, business, and philanthropic organizations— most specifically, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and Clemson University.


When you read the title of this column, what thoughts immediately pop into your mind? The first question should be, “If I read this article, will it help me in my sales career?” The answer is “yes.” Most sales people see making sales as an event instead of a cycle with a process. This column is one in a series that will complete the “Sales Cycle.” So let’s begin. What separates high school athletes from professional athletes is the ability to consistently execute the fundamentals of their sport at a very high level. Sales is much the same. The main problem is most sales folks were never taught the fundamentals, let alone the skills used to master them. If someone were to walk up to you and ask you why he or she should do business with you, you would more than likely have an answer. And the problem begins right there. Instead of answering to promote your product or services, you should immediately begin asking questions to uncover what prompted the conversation in the first place. Sales is not about selling yourself or your company; sales is about getting to know people and uncovering their needs, that, if met, would be beneficial to them or their organization.

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Business Black Box

So how do you meet those needs? How do you uncover them? First, you need to know what your “Unique Value Proposition” is, so you can be sure that you can meet those needs.You can’t be all things to all people, and this is why you need to establish your own “Unique Value Proposition.” For example, if you wanted to enjoy a quality Italian meal and saw burritos on the menu at a local Italian restaurant, you might question whether or not you’re being served truly authentic Italian cuisine. Your “Unique Value Proposition” is incomplete without your brand and your position in the marketplace working together. By brand I mean something very simple.Your brand is defined by three words: “Who knows you?” Many people argue over “It’s not who you know, it’s what you know,” or vice versa. Unfortunately, both are wrong. It’s “Who knows you?” For example, we all know the brand Coca-Cola, primarily because it’s the No. 1 brand in the world. So in the same way that everyone knows Coca-Cola, does your target market of potential clients know you? The second and equally important question is “What position do you occupy in their mind?” An example of this would be a contrast between Porsche and Volvo. Both are European car manufacturers

that have carved out completely different positions in the marketplace. Volvo is synonymous with safety, while Porsche is all about speed, handling, and performance. The brand names of each conjure up different positions in your mind with different segments of the population as consumers. Those respective brands are there to occupy a position in the mind of consumers who find their unique proposition as valuable, such as safety or performance. Can you as a sales professional clearly articulate your brand and position as well as who will find it valuable? You need to be able to do this before you attempt to answer anyone’s questions, let alone, begin selling. In my next column, I’ll be discussing with you the next step in completing the “Sales Cycle.”

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ost people who see Dan Rundle around Greenville will most likely associate him with his job as chief operating officer for The Worthwhile Company, a local small business that offers software development and web design as well as web, e-mail and enterprise hosting. What many people don’t know about is the battle Dan and his wife, Susan, have fought. Having been married only a short time, Susan—23-years-old at the time—was diagnosed with skin cancer, which spread to her lymph nodes. Everything most 20-something married couples worry about was put on hold. “The stereotypes and any expectations we had for our lives were out the window,” Dan says. “You can’t plan for these things.” As the cancer was removed and Susan underwent chemotherapy, the couple pulled together, but they also looked outward. Dan put himself aside as he devoted himself to his wife’s well-being. Together, they sought God for help.

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“This experience made us less us-centered,” Dan says.


Drawing support from the doctors, church and God, Susan survived her cancer. Doctors cautioned the couple about having children so soon after Susan’s cancer and treatments, but about a year after being diagnosed, Susan is successfully pregnant with the couple’s first child. “We don’t need to worry,” Dan says. “We know we’ll be taken care of.”

July/August 2009

It Makes it all

Businesss Black Box - July 09  

July/August 2009 Issue of Business Black Box Magazine

Businesss Black Box - July 09  

July/August 2009 Issue of Business Black Box Magazine