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OCT. 15-NOV. 18, 2015 • THE CSRA’S MONTHLY BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Boom times in North Augusta

Exit 5 of I-20 on North Augusta’s north side has already experienced rapid growth and more is expected with the addition of a water park next year. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Growth on two sides of city boosts prospect for businesses By Gary Kauffman Major growth on opposite ends of North Augusta will be a boon for existing businesses – and will draw in new businesses. “We don’t have growth in just one part of the city,” City Administrator Todd Glover said. “That’s good, because we don’t just have the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ part of the city.” Project Jackson, with its baseball stadium, hotel and shops, plus the new Medac building, a parking garage and talk of extending the popular Greeneway trail are boosting the oldest part of the town on the south along the Savannah River. Walmart, restaurants and the impending addition of a large water park on the north side along Exit 5 of I-20 are creating booming growth in the newest part of North Augusta. With amenities like the baseball stadium, Scuttle’s Island Water Park and the Greeneway, North Augusta could become known

as an entertainment desitination. “That wouldn’t hurt our feelings,” Glover said. “A lot of folks who live here want these types of amenities where they don’t have to travel.” Glover said the sudden interest in North Augusta has resulted from an aggressive economic development campaign and a valuable asset – real estate. “Augusta has been built out along the interstate, Columbia County has been built out along the interstate,” he said. “But we have a lot of available land – literally thousands of acres of available land – and two interchanges.” Glover said the city has also worked hard at marketing itself to developers and through trade shows. All of this growth could pay big dividends for existing businesses in downtown. The See NORTH AUGUSTA, page 4

North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover gave brief updates on the various projects in progress in the city. Medac and Parking Garage: This project is virtually complete. Medac is moving to the new facility in stages. About 500 of the 602-space parking garage are for Medac employees, with the rest overflow parking for events at the city building. The garage will be available for general parking for evening and weekend events. Project Jackson: After delays because of a lawsuit, this is nearing the groundbreaking stage. Glover said financial negotiations are now taking place with the various developers to determine the share they will pay of the project costs. The 4,500-seat GreenJackets stadium will take about 14 months to complete and the hotel about 17 months, meaning that construction must start soon to be open by April 2017. In addition to the stadium and hotel, the project includes 4-5 restaurants, some boutique shops, office space and condominiums. “It will be a work, live and play community,” Glover said. He added that the project will not disturb the Brick Ponds. A buffer will be built around them. Greeneway Extension: Funding options are being considered for this extension that would bring the popular walking trail into the downtown. A downtown parking area with amenities like wifi access would be part of the plan. Glover said this project may have to be done in phases. Scuttle’s Island Water Park: The city is working with the park’s designers to make sure it meets the city’s requirements. The plan is to have the park open by Memorial Day 2016. “It’s an aggressive timeline but one that can be met if everyone sticks to the game plan,” he said. The city has certain timelines it has to meet and wants to meet to avoid holding up the park’s development. Glover added that the fact that the build site is flat and treeless will help speed the development process. Also, most of the slides are already built and in storage, awaiting assembly.

Businesses urged to prepare before disaster strikes By Gary Kauffman If the deluge that hit central South Carolina the first weekend of October shifted a mere 30 or 40 miles to the east, Augusta and much of the CSRA could have suffered the same devastating flooding as Columbia. That type of disaster could not only physically damage many businesses but could ruin them economically. Augusta already experienced its own bout with Mother Nature in February 2014 when an ice storm wreaked havoc on the area. While it’s almost impossible to fully prepare for a disas-

“Start with the most likely to occur emergencies and go from there.” ter of biblical proportions, there are many things businesses can – and should – do to mitigate the effects of an emergency situation.

“It doesn’t always require money,” Mie Lucas, disaster preparedness coordinator for Richmond County Emergency Management Agency, said. “It’s about education.” Insurance, of course, is a key starting point for any business, large or small. Lucas said that businesses are not eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid funds. They are, however, able to get emergency loans from the Small Business Administration and other sources. Lucas said a first step in a business’ emergency plan is See EMERGENCY PLAN, page 2


The heavy rains that caused massive flooding in Columbia, S.C., the first weekend of October caused major damage to many businesses, like Forest Lake Fabrics, pictured above. The business, which has operated for more than 50 years, plans to rebuild. A disaster like this in the Augusta area could cause similar damage. Photo contributed by Forest Lake Fabrics.

EMERGENCY PLAN continued from page 1 helping employees develop their own home emergency plan. Not only is this good stewardship of human resources, it also makes business sense because your business may not be located in the disaster zone. “You start with preparing employees at home so they can come into work if your business is open,” Lucas said. “You should educate your employees every month and have them do disaster drills at home.” A business should also have a plan in place in case a disaster confines employees to the work place. “We saw it in the ice storm, especially at the hospitals, where they were stuck at work,” Lucas said. “Employees couldn’t get home, or their relief couldn’t come in.” She said in those cases, employers should be prepared to cover the basic necessities – food, a place to eat and a place to shower. While floods and ice storms grab everyone’s attention, most businesses are far more likely to experience other types of emergency situations like fire, hazardous materials spills or, as has been in the news in recent years, an active shooter. Lucas acknowledged that creating an emergency plan can seem daunting for a small business. “Start with the most likely to occur emergencies and go from there,” she said. “For example, if there is a fire in your facility, where is the rally point for employees? Who’s going to do a head count to make sure everyone is there?” Lucas said there is no need to “reinvent the wheel.” “Talk to a neighboring business,” she said. “They may have a plan that would work great for your business if you adjust one or

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Resources to prepare your business National Website Ready.gov/business Richmond County Emergency Management Agency http://www.augustaga.gov/462/ Emergency-Management Columbia County Emergency Management Agency http://www.columbiacountyga.gov/ government-/departments-d-k/ emergency-management-agency-ema two things.” Lucas also encouraged businesses to contact their local emergency management agency for help in creating a plan. “Part of our mission is to help prepare people for the next emergency,” she said. One way they help businesses prepare is by training Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). CERT members are trained in fire safety, search-and-rescue techniques and emergency medical procedures like CPR. They can provide valuable assistance in an emergency until first responders arrive. Tips on how to be prepared for a disaster can be found at the website ready.gov. Lucas said the Richmond County Emergency Management Agency kept a close eye on the storms that hit Columbia, ready for any shift to the east. “We’re certainly thankful (we weren’t needed),” she said, “but we were ready to respond.”


Publisher’s Notes Neil Gordon

Southern Lights

Growth has things looking bright in North Augusta In 1989, I made the long trek in my car from upstate New York to visit some TV news stations in the South in hopes of landing my first TV job. I vividly recall traveling in from upstate South Carolina through Highway 25 into North Augusta, where I had an interview with WRDW on Georgia Avenue. I remember

thinking, “What a nice area” and how green and quaint it was. My feelings have not changed in more than 25 years – and from a business perspective, things are getting better and better each year! This month’s edition focuses on growth on the west side of the Palmetto State. Our senior writer, Elisabeth Curry, spoke with one of the people leading the charge to retrofit Graniteville from an old mill town into a pedestrianfriendly town celebrating its heritage. Her story is on page 20. Our Businessperson of the Month is, like me, also a transplant from outside the community. He found North Augusta to be a Mayberry-like town to start a dental practice and 25 years later he’s still here! Meet Dr. Ron Bryant on page 32. North Augusta is also booming and is the subject of our cover page. Our editor in chief, Gary Kauffman, went to a government leader to get the “buzz” on important projects like Project Jackson, Me-

Growth means jobs. Jobs require excellent people. Where do you find high-quality, qualified and skilled professionals? I want to personally invite you to the 3rd Annual Buzz on Biz Career Expo. We’re set for Tuesday afternoon,  February 9, 2016  at the Legends Club. We’ve already renewed some exhibitors and have added a new VIP sponsor this year – Geneice McCoy of Real McCoy Brokerage Company. See pages 42-44 for details. If you are looking to grow, replace existing talent or develop some “bench strength” for future positions, please contact either myself at  706-5896727  or Janine Garropy at  803-4802800. dac’s relocation and the new water park. Speaking of growth, it’s hard not to notice “dirt-digging” at Phase II of Mullins Crossing. On page 6, we learn a bit more about the timing of when development will begin and what stores could be coming to the Columbia County shopping center.

Features

Neil Gordon is president of Buzz on Biz, LLC and produces a daily TV segment on News 12 This Morning, a daily radio show on WRDW 1630 AM, a daily website and a weekly email business newsletter in addition to Buzz on Biz, the CSRA’s only monthly business publication.

Mullins Crossing.............. 6

Business Events............ 40

After two-year delay, site work has begun for Phase II of Mullins Crossing, with plans to attract major stores.

Social Buzz............... 49-55

Graniteville Rebirth....... 20 The A is Back.................... 6

Horse Creek Trust hopes to revitalize Graniteville into a pedestrian-friendly shopping area.

Business Openings...22-24

Three years later, the A is back as Georgia Regents University is renamed Augusta University

UGA business study....... 30

Buzz Bits....................12,13

Asian and Hispanic consumers will be driving the markets in the future.

Businessperson of the Movie Star..................... 49 Month: Ron Bryant....... 32 North Augusta resident Ashley Smith Helping people feel good about their dental work puts a smile on this North Augusta dentist’s face.

N. Augusta Chamber..... 38

North Augusta Chamber puts out a call for nominations for awards.

Robinson’s harrowing story is told in the movie Captive.

Christmas Child............. 54

Operation Christmas Child launches annual campaign to give gifts to children in other countries.

Columnists Gary Kauffman: Word of mouth doesn’t work if right things aren’t said...............................8 Russell Head: New law changes guidelines, affects local businesses.....................................8 Charles Kelly: The best measure of business success is customer service......................... 10 Mike Herrington: Making donations to charity can have tax implications....................... 10 Kelsey Morrow: New app lets your customers take a peek behind the scenes............... 14 Kim Romaner: Keeping technology current can increase business’ value........................ 14 Mark Alison: Maintain real relationships with customers to net sales................................ 16 Jeb Blount: Prospecting for new clients keeps a business growing.................................... 16 Eddie Kennedy: Avoid the competition by becoming a category of one......................... 18 Barry Paschal: Lies travel fast on the internet, but the truth is out there........................... 18

Christine Hall: Some canceled debts have to be reported to IRS as income.................... 26 Pam Hanson: Learning to barter can give you a competitive advantage.......................... 26 Missie Usry: New college students still have time to pick major, be involved................. 42 Steve Swanson: More is accomplished when workers pool their talents.......................... 44 Susan O’Keefe: Sam’s Hot Dogs offers place for quick lunch at reasonable cost............ 46 Ben Casella: Trip to north means lobster and new brews to taste....................................... 50 Samantha Taylor: Comedy shows on Netflix help lighten the mood.................................. 50 Jonathan Karow: Drums are an international instrument with many names.................. 52 Nora Blithe: Co-workers conspire to fill others with sweet poison...................................... 52 Melissa Brown: Start with a plan, stock up and make healthy choices............................... 54

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NORTH AUGUSTA continued from page 1 water park is projecting 250,000-300,000 visitors in the span between Memorial Day and Labor Day, roughly 25,000-30,000 per day, possibly more on weekends. When the GreenJackets are in town, and people are using the walking trail, North Augusta could see upwards of 50,000 visitors on Saturdays and Sundays. “That’s a lot of additional business,” Glover said. “But (businesses) need to begin preparing themselves to capitalize on that.” While Scuttle’s Island Water Park will obviously boost the businesses along Exit 5, Glover said it will have an overall positive effect on North Augusta. “The water park introduces people to North Augusta who may have never had a reason to stop in our town before,” he said. “It brings a level of recognition.” He added that a beautification project along Exit 5 was an effort to tie it into the downtown beautification, creating a seamless feel to the city. The Exit 5 interchange opens onto Edgefield Road (Hwy 25). Most of the new growth has come on the north side of I-20, and received a boost when Walmart opened its supercenter in Sweetwater Square Shopping Center a year ago. A number of restaurants and shops have already filled the shopping center, and a Holiday Express hotel is planning to locate there. The announcement of Scuttle’s Island Water Park has brought another round of interest in the area, including, Glover said, from some businesses who had rejected North Augusta’s overtures in the past. Glover declined to name any names but said the scope of businesses contacted by North Augusta is far reaching. “If you name a chain, chances are I’ve spoken with them and given them a recruitment package,” he said. Glover is especially interested in bringing some mid-level restaurants to the city

The new parking garage and Medac building in North Augusta. Photo by Gary Kauffman

(he defined mid-level as “a place where you don’t need a tray, that has table service”), as well as some more hotels. That will help North Augusta take better advantage of some of the large events it hosts or that take place along the river. The growth downtown also has drawn interest. Glover said a number of restaurants have already contacted Medac about possibilities in delivering food. Food trucks have also contacted the city about setting up downtown. Medac will eventually have about 600 employees in their new facility next to the city government building. Glover said that will make a huge impact on the city. “As a city we want to make it easier for them to walk out the door and get something to eat than it is for them to get in their car and drive somewhere,” he said. The proposal to extend the Greeneway into the downtown will also bring a boost to downtown business as well as to Project Jackson. “The most successful downtowns in the

country are walkable downtowns,” he said. “It’s critical to bring those people (on the Greeneway) into our downtown.” Glover also expects a symbiotic relationship between the two areas of growth. The owners of the hotel that will be part of Project Jackson have already talked about offering family fun packages that include tickets to the water park and a GreenJackets game. All this new development won’t make North Augusta selfish, though. Glover expects it to benefit Augusta as well, especially the downtown. “I fully expect that some people will eat

on Broad Street, then walk across the bridge or take a water taxi to come see a ballgame,” he said. Of course, new development isn’t all peaches and cream. “Anytime you introduce new development you get more traffic,” Glover said. “To say you can add all these things without smart planning would be a mistake. We look at all of these things and make sure their plans align with the city.” Edgefield Road at Exit 5, for example, already is four to six lanes, with a center turning lane. The parking garage downtown, along with two more planned, will alleviate parking issues. Project Jackson has been a bone of contention for some people since it was announced three years ago, and it has been delayed by lawsuits. A recent public meeting also brought up concerns about the new water park. “Growth has pros and cons,” Glover said. “We make sure to identify those cons and mitigate them as much as possible.” Glover hopes that once Project Jackson is complete and people see how nice it is, it will change some minds. “Of course, some people will be opposed to it whether it’s nice or not,” he said. “But my hope is that once they see it in action, they’ll warm up to it.” Glover expects North Augusta to continue to grow with new business. “Growth begets growth,” he said.

THE CSRA’S ONLY MONTHLY BUSINESS MAGAZINE The Buzz on Biz mission is to act as an inspirational tool for those in the workplace and those who are entrepreneurs, and to provide useful, practical information to increase their companies’ bottom lines. To order a 12-month subscription mailed to your home or office, please mail a check for $36 to cover postage to the address below. Publisher Neil R. Gordon

Senior Writer Elisabeth Curry

Editor in Chief Gary Kauffman/803-341-5830

Writers Millie Huff, Kelsey Morrow

Sales Manager Neil R. Gordon/706-589-6727 neil.gordon@buzzon.biz

Calendar Coordinator Kelsey Morrow kelsey.morrow@buzzon.biz

Sales Janine Garropy/803-480-2800 janine.garropy@buzzon.biz

Distribution Janine Garropy, Ken Brown, Anne Marie Patterson, David McGarry

Design Gary Kauffman

Submit Information gkauffman@buzzon.biz thegordongrouppr@comcast.net kelsey.morrow@buzzon.biz

Photography Gary Kauffman, Melissa Gordon

Opinions expressed by the writers herein are their own and their respective institutions. Neither Buzz on Biz LLC or its agents or employees take any responsibility for the accuracy of submitted information, which is presented for informational purposes only.

For more information, visit us at buzzon.biz or like us on Facebook An artist’s rendering of what the exterior area of Project Jackson will look like.

4 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

3740 Executive Center Drive, #300, Martinez, GA 30907


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Mullins Crossing starts work on Phase II Columbia County growth sparks interest from major businesses

By Gary Kauffman Site work is underway in Phase II of the Mullins Crossing Shopping Center in Evans, and Joe Mullins of Mullins Management said the projected population growth in Columbia County has piqued the interest of major businesses and restaurants in locating there. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries from businesses,” said Mullins, who along with his family, owns the development. “We have some commitments. You should start seeing names coming out in the next three to four weeks.” Phase II of Mullins Crossing covers 20-25 acres and will contain 20-22 stores in about 200,000 square feet of space, depending on some of the store configurations. Mullins said they have sought public input on the types of businesses people want in the area and have been marketing to them. “Our goal is to bring new and exciting businesses to the area that people want, and new restaurants as well,” he said. Phase I, which was built in 2006, brought in 32 new businesses and created about 1,000 new jobs. Mullins expects a similar amount of new jobs with Phase II. He said Phase II could have been built two years ago but they were waiting for the extension of River Watch Parkway, which is now underway. The road extension will allow Mullins Crossing to have entrances there. “Mullins Crossing paused to let the infrastructure catch up,” Mullins said. “We would have had it open two years ago, but that was our choice. We’re committed to the River Watch extension and then entrances off of it to take some of the pressure off Washington Road.” The road extension work also allowed Phase II to get underway. Dirt was needed for the roadwork, so Mullins contracted with the same company the state is using to build the road extension to do their site work for Phase II. That allowed them to take the dirt from the site to build up the roadway. “It was not a money decision as much as we wanted to work with them to get the road done,” Mullins said. How soon Phase II can be completed depends on how quickly the road work progresses but Mullins is hoping for a target of a year from now. “Some of the toughest work is what we’re going through now,” he said. “Once the site work is done it’ll take no time at all.”

Site work has begun for Phase II of Mullins Crossing. It may be open by the end of 2016. Photo by Gary Kauffman

There was some serendipity in the two-year delay, though. During that time Fort Gordon announced plans for significant growth and Columbia County contracted for a hospital. Both of those caught the attention of retailers and restaurants. “A lot of stores gauge where they’ll locate by population and income,” Mullins said. “Columbia County has had the income but not the population. Now some of these stores are giving us credit for future growth.” One of the goals for Phase II is to provide balance with Phase I – in other words, no new stores that will compete directly with those in Phase I. Phase II will also not have as many anchor stores. Mullins hopes their project, along with others in the area, will also bring more balance to the county. Columbia County has traditionally been a bedroom community. Mullins said only about 27 percent of the people who live in Columbia County also work in the county. He hopes to push that number past 30 percent.

In addition to the new jobs, Mullins said bringing more businesses into the county will also begin to shift some of the tax burden from homeowners to businesses. “One anchor store can take a substantial amount off of (homeowner) property tax,” he said. It can also make a difference to other local groups. “These companies coming in, we plan to bridge them with schools and community events,” Mullins said. “We’ll be helping them give back to the community.” To continue that business development, infrastructure must continue to be built in Columbia County, Mullins said. He pointed out the potential for traffic congestion at the Grovetown exit as new businesses move in, as well as at Mullins Crossing. “It was very difficult initially with Phase II for businesses to take it seriously because of the infrastructure,” Mullins said. “We’re at a very crucial time. If we don’t get our infrastructure caught up we’ll start seeing growth fall.”

The A is back: GRU becomes Augusta University The A is back. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted on Sept. 15 to change the name of Georgia Regents University to Augusta University. The name change is effective immediately. The university’s name had been changed from Augusta State University to Georgia Regents University on Aug. 7, 2012. The name change caused a lot of controversy locally and bumper stickers proclaiming “Save the A” became popular around the city. New university president Brooks Keel, in a presidential announcement on the university website, indirectly acknowledged the public’s displeasure with the name change. He said the change “is also

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recognition of the critical partnership that exists between our institution and the local community. The energy and enthusiasm generated by this partnership will be instrumental as we build our reputation as a national leader in teaching, research, health care and service.” He also acknowledged that the name change will mean adjustments across the university and health system community. The name change caught many in the community by surprise. Amid the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the new name, a local group is striking while the iron is hot to raise funds and show its support for Augusta University. Community members, who helped steer

the “Save the A” campaign, are once again partnering with local business leaders and alumni of Augusta University, this time to support the new name. “I think it’s important to take advantage of the momentum to both raise funds for Augusta University and show our appreciation to the Board of Regents for their decision,” said Nick Evans. “It’s going to take a little time to rebrand, and there are a lot of people in our community who want to do something right now to demonstrate the pride we feel in the new name.” To that end, the group has created yard signs and stickers with a “We love and support Augusta University” message that will be available locally at many stores. Proceeds

from the sale of the signs benefit The Greater University Fund at Augusta University. “We believe that education is the key to a healthy community and are happy to be a beginning for this grass roots effort!” Rick Toole, President of W. R. Toole Engineers, is a local business owner and Chair of the Augusta University Foundation. “We think this is a great change for our community and Augusta University,” said Jeff Hadden, owner of Phoenix Printing and a partner in the effort. “We just wanted to do a little something to show our appreciation.” For more information about the campaign or becoming a partner, contact Susan Barcus, Senior VP for Advancement at 706721-0275 or sbarcus@gru.edu.


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Business Lessons Gary Kauffman

Silence Isn’t Golden Word of mouth doesn’t work if the right things aren’t said

A number of years ago I had a client named Ben who had built up a nice business manufacturing high-quality wood flooring, wood trim and wood doors. Basically, you could trim out the interior of a really nice house with what he made. After completing a minor project for him, I tried to convince him that he needed to step up his advertising to showcase the full range of products he made. “I don’t need that,” he said. “I get all the business I need from word of mouth.” One day one of those “word-of-mouth” customers came to see him about wood flooring. He had made wood flooring for their neighbors, who raved about it. They were now building a large new home, so they wanted flooring from Ben as well. As they stood in his showroom, they observed some

of the nice displays he had on hand. “I wish we’d known you do trim and doors,” they told him. “We just ordered 20 doors and all our trim from someone else, but we would have got it all from you if we’d known.” The next day Ben called me about advertising. He realized that he had just lost thousands of dollars in income because his new customers didn’t know all that he had to offer. Word of mouth is a double-edged sword. On the one edge, it is a powerful way for people to learn about your business. People place a lot of trust in what their friends say about a business. If they like you, your credibility and value shoots through the roof. And word of mouth is absolutely free! But the other edge of the sword, the one that can cut you if you’re not careful, is that you have virtually no control over it. You can’t schedule word of mouth; you just have to be content with when your customers decide to bring it up to others. And, as Ben learned, word of mouth can be extremely limited. Customers will only talk about the products or services they received from you, or the ones that are important to them. It is a heart-sinking feeling when a potential customer says, “Oh, I didn’t know you did that or I would have bought it from you.” In fact, you will never know how many customers you missed out on completely because they didn’t know you had the very thing they needed.

Business Benefits Russell Head

How Small is Small? New law changes guidelines, affects local businesses

Many of our clients and prospective clients in the 51to-100 employee market in Aiken/Augusta have been waiting to hear their options for 2016. The insurance carriers and HMOs have been on hold regarding the release of whether this size employer will be considered small group or large group. Ultimately each state’s Department of Insurance will

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have some final say on how an employer may be considered in a small group or large group as it relates to the employee count. The cost savings of being non community-rated could be substantial; upwards of 25 percent savings to remain a non community-rated employer. On Oct. 7, President Obama signed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act into law. The PACE Act repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that the small group market in every state be expanded to include businesses with 51-100 employees. Although some sources questioned whether he might veto the law, the President signed the PACE Act into law in light of its bipartisan support in Congress. Small Group Market Expansion Most states have historically defined “small employers” as those with 50 or fewer employees for purposes of defining their small group health insurance market. Effective for 2016 plan years, the ACA expanded the definition of a “small employer” to include those that

Ben loved the fact that people were talking about him at no cost to himself. But he could have purchased a nice advertising campaign for a quarter of the amount that he lost in that one deal by people not knowing what he sold. Plus that advertising campaign would have undoubtedly brought in other customers for doors and trim. Word of mouth is great, but only a portion of a good advertising campaign. Even a simple brochure that can be handed to each customer and potential customer will allow people to find out about what you offer, even if the person giving you word-of-mouth support didn’t buy those things from you. Advertising in print, radio and

even TV keeps putting your business out in front of the public, allowing you to draw from a customer base who may never have contact with the words spoken by your customers. Of course, that costs money. But as Ben learned, relying simply on word of mouth can have some pretty expensive consequences as well. Gary Kauffman is Editor in Chief of Buzz on Biz and manages the content for print and web publications. He moved from Indiana to the CSRA in December 2013. Prior to moving here, he ran his own graphic design/advertising business for 17 years where he worked with many small businesses. You can reach him at gkauffman@buzzon.biz.

The PACE Act gives states the option of expanding their small group markets employed an average of between one and 100 employees. The PACE Act eliminates the ACA’s new definition and, instead, gives states the option of expanding their small group markets to include businesses with up to 100 employees. Impact on Employers The expansion of the small group market was expected to have a significant effect on mid-size businesses. These businesses would have been required to buy coverage for employees in the small group market, which is more heavily regulated than the large group market. This change was expected to increase premiums costs for employers and employees and reduce flexibility in plan design due to added small group market requirements. Some states have already amended their state laws to adopt the expanded small group market definition. These

states will have to take action to undo those changes. Most states are already taking advantage of a transition rule provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS has said that it will not enforce small group market regulations for mid-size businesses if their policies are renewed by Oct. 1, 2016. This means that many employers have already been able to delay moving from the large group to the small group market. The PACE Act makes this relief permanent for all employers. Please contact ACHS Insurance, Inc. if you have any questions about your policies. Russell T. Head is President of ACHS Insurance Services. He can be reached at 706733-3459 or rthead@achsinsurance.com. Visit ACHS Insurance Services at at www.achsinsurance.com.


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Business Tech Charles Kelly

Highest Value

The best measure of business success is customer service So, recently we were voted the “Best Place to get your Computer Repaired” by Augusta Family Magazine, and then, last week, we were voted “Best IT Company” by the Metro Spirit readers, both of which are a true honor to me, my business partners and my staff. We are not the largest IT service company and in fact, probably only rank No. 3 by sales volume. What we value above volume and the standard metrics are things less tangible. Of course, we do measure numbers and ratios, the things all good business owners look at. But the most important thing to me, and hopefully the most important thing that our staff members value, is that we, as an organization really care about how the customer feels about the goods and services we provide to them – not just on the first day we do work for them, but on every single day. Every business owner would like to staff their company with clones of themselves. Who will work harder than you or treat your customers better than you? Probably no one. Since we can’t be everywhere at once and we can’t clone ourselves, we train our staff members to at least convey the same attitudes and doctrine that we use in dealing with our most valuable asset, our customers. In an effort to accomplish this, companies create mission statements,

Business Advice Mike Herrington

Charity Case

Making donations to charity can have tax implications While most anything can be given to charity, these are the more common forms of donated property:

10 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

have training manuals, produce memos, slogans and create customer satisfaction programs. These investments in training, company meetings, customer feedback forums and even focus groups, are all an effort to get staff members to respect customers and to do business with them the way that you would do. In 20 years, I haven’t written my mission statement yet, but give me time, I’m not quite done. I approach it a little differently, in that I prefer to try to instill in my staff a few key ways of thinking that are easy to remember and I bring those up in one-on-one meetings, when they are hired and in our staff meetings. In the meantime, I ask them to watch the way I operate and to then try to emulate that, not word for word or action for action, but to understand the overarching doctrine of my business and the way that we want to treat our customers. After a few weeks of working with me, a new staff member can easily predict how I will handle most customer service issues that come up. They have seen me do it and it follows a consistent pattern of doing whatever it takes to resolve the issue. I will then ask them, “What do you think we should do?” in a particular situation or “How do you think I would handle this issue?” When they can predict what I would do, then I give them the authority to resolve customer issues without consulting me. Empowering your staff to make real decisions is the next best thing to cloning. In addition to empowerment, before a staff member does anything, on the first day of work, I explain to them that their primary job is to make our customers feel comfortable and that we must develop a rapport with each

customer at every interaction point. The staff members must adopt this to their own personality so that is it not a canned greeting as large companies enforce, but something they internalize so that it becomes genuine. The invisible barrier between customers and staff is always there at the beginning with new customers. We must break down the barrier and gain a level of trust. Then we must grow that trust by telling the customer the truth and doing our best to help them. It helps that I don’t give my employees policies or processes that would cause them to be dishonest to a customer or do anything that is not in the best interest of the customer. Every employee has the ability to state their opinion about a particular technology and in fact, it is our job to offer an opinion in some cases about whether a repair is a reasonable financial choice. We hire smart technology-immersed people, insist that they treat customers the way in which they would want to be treated and empower them to help the customers without rules, regulations or red tape designed to make our bottom line bigger. My rule on rules is that if I cannot look a customer in the eye and logically defend my policy then it should not be a policy. Several times over the last couple of weeks, while dealing with mostly, large companies, I was faced with a particular rule or policy that was simply indefensible by any logical thought process and in one case absolutely outrageous. In these cases, man-

agement either had no authority to correct the situation and in one case, they simply refused to address the issue and removed all negative social media posts related to it. I’m not a hard person to please; in fact, I rarely complain about anything. These sorts of interactions are a reminder to me that all people usually want is to be treated with respect and fairness. This motivates me in my business, to try very hard to treat our customers just like we would want to be treated. I would rather get that one point across to our staff than have 10 artificial processes that make us pretend to care about the customer. Mission statement? I’ll get around to it one day, but in the meantime I keep trying to make sure that not only myself, but all staff members treat our customers the way they would want to be treated. It’s a golden way to do business. To the customers that voted for us and to all of my customers, thank you so much for your patronage and your loyalty. We know we are not perfect and there is much room for improvement, but we do honestly care about our customers and we will continue to value that personal interaction over higher sales volume.

Cash: Cash gifts are the easiest to give to a charity, both in terms of substantiating the deduction and in determining the value of the gift. Real Estate: Real estate that is owned outright and which has appreciated in value can be given to a charity. The donor can generally deduct the fair market value of the property, up to an adjusted gross income (AGI) percentage limitation. When a charity sells donated appreciated property, the capital gain then escapes taxation, up to AGI percentage limits. Securities: The best securities to donate tend to be those that have increased substantially in value. As with real estate, the donor can generally deduct the fair market value of the security and the capital gain escapes taxation when the security is sold by the charity. Charitable Gift Tax Implications: • Gifts of cash and ordinary income

property are generally deductible up to 50 percent of the donor’s adjusted gross income (AGI). • The fair market value of gifts of longterm capital gains property (e.g., real estate, stock) is deductible up to 30 percent of AGI. There is, however, a special election through which a donor may deduct up to 50 percent of AGI if the donor values the property at the lesser of fair market value or adjusted cost basis. • Charitable contributions in excess of the percentage limitations can be carried over and deducted for up to five succeeding years. • The donor must itemize income tax deductions in order to claim a charitable deduction. A portion of itemized deductions is phased out for taxpayers with an AGI above certain limits. Life Insurance: If a charitable organization is made the owner and beneficiary of an existing life insurance

policy, the donor can deduct the value of the policy as of the date of the transfer of ownership. The donor may then deduct all future amounts given to the charity to pay the premiums. If a charity is named just the beneficiary of an insurance policy on the donor’s life, no current income tax deduction is available. At the donor’s death, however, the donor’s estate receives an estate tax charitable deduction for the full amount of the policy death benefit. Contact my office if you’d like more information on charitable giving.

Empowering staff to make decisions is the next best thing to cloning

Charles Kelly is President of Computer Exchange, with four locations in the CSRA: South Augusta, North Augusta, Martinez and Grovetown. Computer Exchange specializes in computer solutions for home and business. For answers to your computer questions, email him at charles@computerexchange.com.

Mike Herrington is President of Herrington Financial Services, Inc, a Registered Investment Advisor. He is a Certified Financial Planner licensee(CFP), a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Certified Estate Planner(CEP). He has been serving clients in the CSRA since 1984. Contact him at 706-8688673 or mike@herringtonfinancialservices.com


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Social justice topic of faith communities event

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis will be the keynote speaker at a seminar on the role of faith in communities on Oct. 24. “The Role of Faith Communities in Addressing Issues of Social Justice” is a day of education and networking for faith group leaders, pastors and their spouses, ministerial staff, chaplains and church leaders involved in health and hospital ministries. The meetings will be held in the Harold Harrison Education Commons at the GRU Health Sciences Campus. Davis will be the keynote speaker. Other conference presenters are Dr. Tim Owings, Priscilla Gary, Dr. Lee Ann Caldwell and Paula Owens. Register at Bit.ly/GRUClergyConference15 or call 706-7212929.

Kangaroo gas stations to change names The Kangaroo Express logo on area gas stations will be hopping away during the next year. All of the convenience stores bearing the Kangaroo Express brand will become Circle K stores within the next six to nine months. It is part of a global rebranding effort by the parent company, Couche-Tard. The owners believe the rebranding will create a stronger company.

Unemployment rate drops in Augusta The unemployment rate in Augusta continues to drop. The Georgia Department of Labor announced this week that Metro Augusta’s unemployment rate for August was 6.5 percent, down five-tenths of a percentage point from 7.0 percent in July. The rate in August 2014 was 8.0 percent. The rate declined as employers

buzz bits

created more jobs and new layoffs decreased, as measured by initial unemployment insurance claims. The number of jobs in Augusta increased by 1,200, or 0.5 percent, in August to 229,300. The job gains came mostly in state and local government, as school system employees returned from the summer recess, education and health services and retail trade.   Over the year, Augusta gained 5,300 jobs, a growth rate of 2.4 percent, from 224,000 in August 2014. Most of the job growth came in leisure and hospitality, education and health services, trade, transportation and warehousing and local government. Also, the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance declined by 1,017, or 46.9 percent, to 1,150 in August. Most of the decrease came in manufacturing and administrative and support services. Over the year, claims were down by 285, or 19.9 percent, from 1,435 in August 2014.     

Metro chamber moving to Riverfront Center

The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce announced on Friday that it has entered into a lease agreement with the Augusta Riverfront Center to facilitate the relocation of the chamber offices. The new location at One 10th Street, Augusta Riverfront Center, includes 5,000 square feet of office space on the first floor. The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to approve entering into a new 10-year lease to relocate the chamber’s offices to the new office suite. The space offers many distinct advantages including an easy-to-access location with ample parking and is currently being renovated to fit the chamber’s business needs. Staff and board members expect the move to the new location, from its current offices on Greene Street, to take place on Jan. 1, 2016. “The new space will expand our offices to include confer-

12 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

Augusta Metro FCU honored for community outreach work Augusta Metro Federal Credit Union has won a state award and is now in the running for a national award. Augusta Metro recently won the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award. This award is given to a credit union or credit union chapter for its social involvement within the community. Such involvement includes almost any type of community outreach program or project that helps other people or strengthens the community. For Augusta Metro FCU, these activities included charity fundraising for the American Heart Association, Children’s Miracle Network, and American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. With Relay for Life as their main focus, Augusta Metro FCU was ence and meeting space for our Board of Directors, committees and special functions,” said John Ray, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “We are excited about this long-term solution for the Chamber’s facility in a premium, high-traffic location centered in the downtown district.” The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce represents 1,100 businesses and organizations throughout the region. The organization’s mission is to lead the business community by serving as its advocate, promoting our region, enhancing the business climate and providing quality membership programs and services.

Jessye Norman honored with street signs

A downtown street will soon have a new name. Street signs proclaiming 8th Street as the “Honorary Jessye Norman Boulevard” signs will be unveiled soon at 8th and Greene streets. Students from the Jessye Norman School of the Arts sang the

able to raise over $1,900 in donations between numerous bake sales, employee jean’s days, and a grand finale Car Smash-participants of Relay for Life were able to smash a donated car, “Cancer,” with a sledgehammer-to benefit cancer research. This marks Augusta Metro FCU’s second consecutive year winning the state-level Dora Maxwell award for their charity fundraising. Georgia’s award-winning submissions will be entered in the national awards program administered by the Credit Union National Association. JNSA School Creed. The words were written by Russell Joel Brown, and the music was written by Edwin Hamilton, one of the School’s music instructors. Jessye Norman, an Augusta native, is being honored by these street signs for her many accomplishments, including five Grammy awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award; the National Medal of the Arts received at the White House from President Obama in 2010; a Kennedy Center honors recipient; and honorary doctorate degrees from 38 colleges, universities, and conservatories around the world. Her community service includes trustee board memberships at The New York Public Library, Carnegie Hall, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Lupus Foundation, Paine College and the New York Botanical Garden. The Jessye Norman School of the Arts and the Jessye Norman Amphitheater on the Riverwalk in Augusta are named in her honor. Her memoir, Stand Up Straight and Sing! chronicles her childhood in Augusta and many experiences of her professional life.

Real estate firm changes name An Augusta commercial real estate firm has expanded the scope of its projects far beyond Augusta, and now has changed its name to reflect that. Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial has changed its name to Southeastern Development Associates. With projects in seven states, the name change more accurately reflects the company’s operational area. Locally the company has developed such projects as Evans Town Park and the Gateway Shopping Center in Grovetown. But the company has also worked to develop hotels in South Carolina and Florida, and a riverwalk project in Knoxville, Tenn. In addition to the main office in Augusta, the company also has South Carolina offices in Hilton Head, Charleston and Bluffton, and one in Knoxville, Tenn. It has about 50 employees. The company started about 30 years ago.

2016 Tourism Grants available from CVB Applications for the 2016 Tourism Grant are now available from the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau. The purpose of this grant program is to provide funds for marketing and other qualified expenses directed towards increasing the number of overnight visitors to Augusta from outside the area. Any non-profit, governmental or quasi-governmental organization can use the grant to promote its event or product to visitors from outside the area. Applications may be picked up at the Augusta CVB offices in Enterprise Mill, 1450 Greene Street, Suite 110, or downloaded from the Augusta CVB website at VisitAugusta.com/Corporate/ Tourism-Grant. Tourism Grant applications must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23. For more information, contact Jay Markwalter at Jay@VisitAugusta.com or 706-823-6605.


New insurance agent in Evans

Newly-appointed Farmers Insurance agent Mike Pirtle is celebrating the opening of his new office in Evans. “I love being part of this community and I’m excited to be able to offer local residents first– rate customer service, industryleading insurance products and competitive rates,” Pirtle said. The office at 629 Ronald Reagan Drive will enable him and his staff to become even more involved in local organizations and events. Pirtle brings a wealth of business experience to his new office. A key component of his years of training and experience is the commitment he feels for the community he serves. The Mike Pirtle Farmers Agency is open five days a week, with appointments available on weekends and evenings. For more information, visit farmersagent.com/mpirtle. Farmers Insurance serves more than 10 million households with more than 19 million individual policies across all 50 states.

Vietnam Wall replica stops in Evans

A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will make a stop in Evans Oct. 15-17 at Platt’s Funeral Home. Platt’s Funeral Home applied for and was accepted as a host for The Moving Wall, which is a replica of the Vietnam Wall that travels all over the country between April and November annually. The Moving Wall can be seen at the Platt’s Belair Road location, 337 N. Belair Road, Evans. An opening ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 in front of the wall. Speakers include Ret. Col. John Dewey and other Vietnam veterans, and various musical talents will perform. The other ceremony to take place during the three-day hosting duration of The Moving Wall will be a closing ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 5 p.m.

buzz bits The guest speaker for the closing ceremony will be Ret, Maj. General Perry Smith, a Vietnam veteran and the son-in-law to the late Jimmie Dyess. Following the closing, The Wall will remain open to the public until 8 p.m. and be deconstructed the following morning. The Moving Wall is a replica half the size of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and has been touring the country for more than 30 years. A Vietnam veteran, John Devitt, who visited the Memorial in Washington vowed to share it with others who could not make the trip to Washington. Devitt, along with many other volunteers, built the Vietnam Wall replica, which debuted in Texas in 1984, and now has two structures traveling the United States every year.

Brandon Wilde celebrates 25th anniversary An entire week of activities is planned to commemorate Brandon Wilde’s 25th Anniversary. The area’s only “Life Care” Community opened its doors to the first residents on October 15, 1990. At that time, the premier retirement complex consisted of 180 apartment and cottage homes on 36 acres at the corner of Washington and Owens Roads. Today, the campus has grown to more than 250 independent residences situated among 112 landscaped acres. Brandon Wilde, a non-profit corporation, is owned by University Health Care System, Inc. and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. In addition to independent apartment and cottage homes, the campus also features a fully equipped and staffed Wellness Center complete with a new pool and spa, aerobics room and fitness area and a licensed Health Center that offers three levels of care: personal care/ assisted living, 24 hour skilled nursing and memory care. As a “Life Care” community, Brandon Wilde provides a quality residential environment in which people live as indepen-

Grovetown adds acreage to accommodate growth Grovetown has added 267 acres to the city over the past year which is expected to contribute to a local business boom. At the recent State of the Community Address, Grovetown Mayor George James said this expansion is primarily being used for commercial development, but also schools, homes and office buildings for the growing community. “The city currently owns some property that we want to entice developers to come look at,” James said. “We have some major plans for improvements to downtown, including a new pavilion and splash pads that we hope will draw entertainment and groups. We’re hoping that’s just right around the corner.”

dently and actively as they wish, secure in the knowledge that as their needs change, health carerelated support and services are available on site. Brandon Wilde is the area’s first and only comprehensive “Life Care” Retirement Community and is nationally accredited by the CARF-CCAC which recognizes excellence in the Continuing Care Retirement industry. The 25th Anniversary Celebration will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15 on Brandon Wilde’s East Lawn Entrance with music by the Dick Goodwin Band. Following a study on the need for senior services in 1985, University Health, Inc. and St. Joseph Center for Life, Inc. formed a joint venture to build a “Life Care” community on recently acquired acreage in Columbia County. Construction began in 1988 and was completed two years later. Brandon Wilde’s 25 year legacy of caring for seniors continues with the recent opening of The Windsor House for mild stage dementia and a $3 million renovation to the skilled nursing and rehabilitation areas of the Health Center. In addition, “A Main Street” featuring a new salon and spa, arts and crafts center and Wells Fargo Bank branch are currently under construction.

Some major businesses that have already made plans for Grovetown expansion include Ace Hardware, coming next to the IGA on Wrightsboro Road, and a Kroger Marketplace between Lewiston Road and William Few Parkway. City officials are confident that other well-known businesses will soon be following suit. “One of the biggest known business chains in the U.S. is coming to Grovetown,” James said. “We expect that to draw

Non-profit leadership topic of symposium Elizabeth “Liz” Thompson, one of the nation’s leading nonprofit executives, will speak at the inaugural session of the Georgia Regents University Office of Leadership Development’s Conversations in Leadership Series. This free public symposium will be held at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in the Maxwell Theatre on the Summerville Campus. For more than 20 years, Thompson has built a career with extensive experience in nonprofit organizations and has been engaged in youth development and education. In 1993, she was named executive director of City Year Chicago, the local chapter of the national service organization that served as a template for the AmeriCorps Program. She then led Family Star in Denver, Colo., one of the nation’s only Early Head Start Montessori programs. Currently, Thompson is president of the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education, and she was recently appointed governing board chair of the University of Chicago Charter School. She is a member of the University Of Chicago Board Of

even more businesses that will compliment them.” However, all of this growth will not come without growing pains. Recent residential developments have caused significant traffic issues for Lewiston Road and William Few Parkway, with the upcoming Kroger location expected to add to the problem. Chairman Ron Cross of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners said that the Board is aware of this problem, and will be focusing on traffic solutions under tier two of the TSPLOST improvements. “There have been some plans. We are looking at making improvements at Lewiston and Chamblin Roads,” Cross said. “But we are waiting for the money to come in first.” Trustees, a director of The Museum of Science and Industry, and co-chair of Purdue University’s Minority Engineering Program Advisory Panel. Her husband, Donald Thompson, is the former CEO of McDonald’s Corporation.

Georgia Power rates should go down in 2016 Georgia Power announced that it has made its final compliance filing with the Georgia Public Service Commission as required by the company’s 2013 rate settlement agreement. The filing indicates a 2016 base rate adjustment of $144 million or 1.8 percent, which is $26 million less than originally projected in 2013. The estimated $2.45 per month increase will be more than offset by the recently announced fuel rate decrease of approximately $4 on the typical residential customer’s 2016 bill. More than 50 percent of the base rate adjustment is associated with the cost to comply with recent federal regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency. If current filings are approved by the PSC, new lower bills for customers will be possible beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Social Media Kelsey Morrow

Fly on the Wall

New app lets your customers take a peek behind the scenes What if you could give your clients a fly-on-the wall view of the inner workings of your business? It might sound like science fiction, but a new social media application is working to make this a reality. Twitter’s Periscope, a broadcasting application which just launched this past March, describes itself as “the closest thing to teleportation.” What sets Periscope apart from other video hosting sites, such as Youtube, is that users can produce broadcasts live and straight from their cellphones, and viewers can watch these broadcasts as they are happening. Viewers’ comments pop up on the video screen in real time, allowing broadcasters to receive im-

mediate feedback from their audience and respond accordingly. Since the app is associated with Twitter, viewers can also opt to receive tweets alerting them when their favorite users will be beginning a live stream, and users can choose to post footage from completed broadcasts to a Twitter account. As Periscope says on its website, “While there are many ways to discover events and places, we realized there is no better way to experience a place right now than through live video. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around.” The app has been used for a wide variety of topics since its creation, ranging from the mundane, such as footage of a broadcaster taking his dog on a walk, to the more extreme, such as footage from the point of view of a broadcaster hang gliding over the Pacific Ocean. In comparison to more established apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Periscope is still very new and not as widely used. However, several major brands and celebrities have already become active users and it is being heralded as the next big thing in social networking. So, now that you know what Peri-

Business Leverage Kim Romaner

Upgraded values

Keeping technology current can increase business’ value

In today’s economy, and particularly given the expectations of younger business buyers, the degree to which a business owner is using up-to-date technology to run the business has a strong impact on business valuation and selling price. As business brokers, we’re noticing this trend as we represent both buyers and sellers. A 2014 study from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, “The Digital Dividend: First Mover Advantage,” reveals that early adoption of new technologies leads to better business outcomes. In fact, the 20 percent of the study participants that were categorized as information technology (IT) pioneers achieved more than 30 per-

14 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

cent revenue growth. That’s more than twice the group labeled IT followers, and three times the growth achieved by cautious technology adopters. It’s easy to see, then, how embracing new technology and making meaningful use of it in your business can create both better business outcomes and higher valuations upon exiting the business. According to Forrester Research, only 37 percent of small businesses have fully adapted to cloud-based applications. These applications are referred to as “Software as a Service” applications, or SaaS. They allow you to 1) store and manipulate critical company data safely online; 2) share that information specifically with employees, customers or vendors as required; 3) make sure the data is automatically backed up versus depending on a manual process that may or may not happen on a regular basis; and 4) use a platform that you don’t have to buy, but just rent. The efficiencies created by using these services are quite significant, both from a cost and business analysis perspective. Services such as DropBox and Google Drive offer online storage solutions for files and documents. Our office uses Google Drive to share important information. Some businesses

Periscope allows you to produce live footage of the inner workings of your business and give viewers a candid look into your operation. scope is, let’s talk about how you, as a business owner, can successfully utilize its features. Periscope provides numerous implications for business promotion across all industries. A popular concept in the business world is transparency. Consumers tend to prefer companies that seem open with the public. Periscope allows you to produce live footage of the inner workings of your business and give viewers a candid look into your operation. For example, if you are a restaurant, an interesting application might be to film a tour of your kitchen to give viewers a behind-the-scene insight into where and how their food is prepared. If you are a real estate agent, you could use Periscope to give a tour of a house that you are showing. If you are planning an event, Periscope can help you give your viewers a look inside the preparations. Periscope also provides a unique

have adopted an online version of QuickBooks bookkeeping software, which allows you to securely access your company’s financial information from anywhere in the world, as well as easily share it with your accountant. Online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems allow you to track activity with customers and prospects, and automate the marketing process to keep them engaged. Our office uses a virtual phone system, meaning that we can answer our business line even while on vacation in the mountains of North Carolina (and we do!). Hand-in-hand with upgrading software usage is upgrading hardware assets. When was your company’s last major technology upgrade? According to the same Forrester study, the average for small businesses is five years ago. As a career technologist, I can tell you that five years is too long ago. Obsolescence reigns supreme in technology, and those assets will be valued at virtually zero when it comes time to sell your business. I know this makes technology a difficult proposition for many: too hard to keep up, too expensive to upgrade, and why would you change the paper-based system (or antiquated computer-based system) that’s worked for all these years?

way to showcase products. Retail businesses have embraced Instagram and Facebook to post photos of their newest items. However, Periscope allows retailers to take that a step further. Instead of just posting photos of items, you could broadcast video of them being used. For example, a clothing retailer might broadcast a “fashion show” of people actually wearing their new clothing pieces, or a pet store might broadcast a video of puppies playing with their latest shipment of dog toys. Like all new technologies, Periscope is sure to evolve over time. But even in its current form, it is still a valuable tool for any business. Kelsey Morrow is the Media Assistant at Buzz on Biz and handles its social media accounts. She has a Masters in Public Relations from the University of Georgia. You can contact her at kelsey.morrow@buzzon.biz.

The answer, for today’s business buyer, is that they need compatibility with current technology, ease of use and metrics. In order to deeply understand your business, a potential buyer has to be able to quickly understand who the customers are, what they’re buying, how often, what products and services are moving and which are not, which offerings provide the most profit, what are the cross-selling opportunities that could make a huge difference to the bottom line, and more. If you can provide all of these answers in your business with a few clicks, congratulations. You are truly a 21st century business leader. If you can’t, or find it an overwhelming proposition, then bring in an advisor that can help you get there. The investment you’ll make will come back to you multifold. Kim Romaner is president of Transworld Business Advisors of Augusta, a business brokerage that helps people buy and sell businesses, and also enter into the franchise world. With over 100 locations in the U.S. and abroad, Transworld has sold many thousands of businesses. If you’d like to talk to Kim about selling your business, buying a franchise or turning your existing business into a franchise operation, please call 706-383-2994, x802, or email her at kromaner@tworld.com.


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Business Marketing Mark Alison

In a Relationship

Maintain real relationships with customers to net sales Long before ABC’s Shark Tank showed us how business people think, Harvey Mackay wrote a book titled, “How To Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.” My guess is that every Shark, including Mr. Wonderful, has read this book. Mackay, now 83 and still active with more than 48,000 Twitter followers, outlined more than a sales strategy. He outlined a primitive customer relationship management system (CRM) that became the cornerstone of his success. His CRM, or as he titled it, The Mackay 66, is a series of responses to questions that Mackay learned about every customer, over the course of his meetings with them. It covered topics like education, family, special dates, life experiences and business goals. In effect, it was a true “relational” database that helped him communicate on a deeper, personal level with his many customers. At the time, his business consisted of selling paper goods like envelopes and stationery. There were no Office Depot stores but he competed with 600 other sales people for the

Business Sales Jeb Blount

Digging for Gold

Prospecting for new clients keeps a business growing The biggest mistake sales people make is to quit filling the funnel. The salesperson who rests on a book of businesses and just milks it, that business is deteriorating a little every day. So if you are a business owner with a bunch of clients and you don’t go out to get new clients, your business is going to shrink a little bit every day.

16 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

same client! Mackay definitely had his work cut out for him. Mackay thought he could create a “social” relationship within the framework of business. What Harvey Mackay accomplished was quite amazing for the time before computers. Today we would look at his client profile and call it LinkedIn. We live in an amazing technology environment. Between Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter Instagram and others we can get a handle, virtually, on anyone we talk to. Their education, work history, competence and sometimes passion is written out for us to read, on the internet. In other words, Mackay’s 66 is already there for us to peruse so we can relate to the customer immediately. But do we? The simple answer is, no. When I am asked by customers if they should invest in a CRM system I ask them if they are using the one they have. It’s not the tool so much as the discipline. Mackay proves that the answer to creating more sales is not technology. It’s not fancy CRM software or even highly integrated program like Salesforce, a lead-tracking software. But it is a discipline that many entrepreneurs, small businesses and solo practitioners don’t do. The discipline of keeping up with customers and potential customers on a personal level like Mackay did. He took enough interest in clients to send them a clipping of items of interest between the times he spoke to them. He sent regular cards on their special days. He simply moved their index card to another call date following each encounter and made himself fol-

When I am asked by customers if they should invest in a CRM system I ask them if they are using the one they have.

It is the imperative to the salesperson to prospect for new clients every day. Add new things to the pipeline and manage the businesses you have so you keep getting the revenue out of that. If you grab a business owner who’s got salespeople who are just milking a book of businesses, you’ll find a very frustrated business owner. That owner wants more people coming to the door because they understand that mechanism of the business shrinking a little bit all the time. How much you prospect is going to change over time. Balance the amount of effort you put into prospecting. If you’re a brand new salesperson with no book and no information, you’re going to be spending 80-90 percent of your time opening new doors. If you’ve been in a territory for 10 years, that may shift to 10-20 percent of your time opening new doors and 80-90 percent managing your existing book. The most important thing that a salesperson can do every day is set aside a block of time, even an hour, for

getting on the telephone, opening up new business and putting new things in the pipeline. The salesperson who isn’t prospecting isn’t doing their job, they’re going to fail and their territory will die around them. I’ve been prospecting for going on 30 years, and I would argue that I have been phenomenally successful. I worked for a company where I have set the 100-year all-time sales record; I built a business from scratch into a multi-million dollar organization. I prospect every day, and everything that I own, everything that I do, all the people that I pay, everything is a result of prospecting. Yet, it never gets easier. That first phone call of the day, I call it the 10,000-pound weight. Picking up the phone and making that first call never gets easier. Now the difference between, say, me and all the people who aren’t doing it, is I just do it anyway. I get over it. I always say, “Prospecting sucks, get over it.” I’m not one to tell sales people to let

low through. Discipline. This works for anyone – plumbing companies, cupcake stores and even automobile dealerships. By the way, I have purchased more than 20 cars in my lifetime and never once has the salesperson followed up on a regular basis. Maybe that’s why I have never bought two cars in a row from the same dealership. I think Mackay would categorize today’s social media as anti-social media. Frankly, there is no “social” in snippets of one-sided conversation left on Facebook or Twitter. These are opinions and not engagements that lead to significant social interaction. In Mackay’s world, social was useful, respectful communication normally done in person. And since bad news always moves faster than good, my opinion is that social media can “break you” but it’s not likely to “make you.” Going viral is more by luck than design. So how does one get the word out

and distinguish one’s services today? Is the Internet the answer? People who sell geo-fencing, digital marketing, ad words and web banners would have you think so. When it comes to buying Internet advertising for anything other than national clients, I don’t do it. I’ve learned that millions of “hits” don’t necessarily translate into big dollars. Keep in mind all I have is experience to draw from but so far it has saved our clients a lot of money. Mackay’s wisdom again – “When a person with money meets a person with experience, the person with the experience winds up with the money and the person with the money winds up with the experience.” Marketing is not rocket science. It’s simply providing goods and services people want at a price they are willing to pay. If you follow Mackay’s advice, the reach is exponential. One person tells two and two becomes four and so on. And the way you get to that first person and keep those others is by finding relatable topics and connecting on a level that transcends business. So we’re back to true “social marketing.” Buy a Harvey Mackay book and have everyone in your organization read it. Do it. You will outsell, outsmart, outmotivate and outnegotiate your competition, according to Collins Business Essentials. I agree. Mark Alison is President of The Alison Group (started in 1982) with offices in Augusta and Charlotte. TAG s a B2B Marketing and Communication Company with a rich history of creating new business growth. Contact Mark at mark@ thealisongroup.com.

rejection roll off your back and not take it personally. I feel like that’s a platitude. It just doesn’t make any sense because of course you’re going to take it personally. You’re calling someone up and they are rejecting you. You are a human being; of course you are going to take it personally. Just recognize that it is human for you to feel that way. It’s not natural for human beings to show up every day and get rejected. That’s just not who we are. But if you want to be successful in sales, you have to. You can’t allow yourself a luxury of saying, “Hey, I’ve got this book of business that I’ve built. I’m going to milk that and sit on that.” To me, that’s just copping out. Jeb Blount is the founder of Sales Gravy in Thomson. He helps sales teams across the globe reach peak performance fast through keynote speeches, boot camps, seminars, and on-site and online training. Hire Jeb to speak at your next sales meeting or conference. Call at 1-888-360-2249 or visit JebBlount.com for more information.


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Deeper Thinking Eddie Kennedy

All By Yourself

Avoid the competition by becoming a category of one Would you like it if your business had no competition at all? Or if you could get your business out of the commodity products price war? Of course, you would. Business Consultant Joe Calloway, in his book Becoming A Category Of One, tells you how to get out of the commodity trap and eliminate comparison by differentiating your business from your competitors. Who are you? Here’s a question that you as the business leader must decide. This is not simply “what” you do, but “why” you do what you do. When you know this, you permeate it throughout the entire organization as clearly as you can. Say it often, and create ways for every employee to be able to buy into the “why.” Knowing this becomes the platform for your company culture, and your plan for

creating the difference between you and your competition. Once you know who you are, decide who your customers are. You must realize that everyone who shops with you is not your customer. When your business is set up to do or to sell specific things, you should stay within those parameters. Extraordinary companies stay focused because they have decided in advance what businesses they do not want to be in or what customers they don’t want to work with. Becoming a Category They know of One clearly who 228 pages they are and what they do best. The most basic question you must answer is, “Why should the customer do business with you?” If there is not a compelling relevant reason, the customer will most likely buy from the guy with the lowest price. At that point, you are a commodity. To avoid the commodity trap, you must find points of real differentiation. Look beyond the factors of price, qual-

Business Observations Barry Paschal

Pants on Fire Lies travel fast on the internet but the truth is out there Winston Churchill famously said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Or maybe it was Mark Twain who said, “A lie will go ‘round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” Actually, it was C.H. Spurgeon who said it in 1859, says researcher Fred Shapiro in The Yale Book of Quotations. An earlier version of the quote says “Falsehood will fly from Maine to Georgia, while truth is pulling her boots on.” The earliest reference, Shapiro says, is to a quote from Jonathan Swift from 1710: “Falsehood flies, and the truth

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comes limping after it.” How did I learn all this? I searched the Internet and found Shapiro’s work, among others, in 0.39 seconds. That blindingly fast result is a tremendous contrast to the world of 1710. In his day, Swift would have hunted for literary references at a brick-and-mortar library. It’s not much different than how I would have conducted research in high school or college nearly 300 years after Swift. It would have required a visit to the library and a tedious card catalog search, and then a hunt through the stacks in hopes that the book was on the shelf and would have the information needed. If not? Back to the cards. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and searching for information is now absurdly simple. We’ve even coined a verb for the task: “Googling.” No more traveling to a library, thumbing through card catalogs, writing down Dewey’s decimals and searching through stacks. Instead, with just a few keystrokes, we have access to the equivalent of virtually every archive on the planet, 24 hours per day, all from the comfort of our recliner, allowing us to instantly verify information before we share it via social media. You might think such ease of access would slow the spread of falsehoods.

ity and service. Customers are looking for more than that; they are looking for value. You need to solve their problems or help them make their dreams come true by using your products or services. Your brand is everything. Not your logo – your company name or even your products. Your brand resides in the mind of the customer – whatever they think of you. This is what defines you in the marketplace. Every employee’s top priority should be to build, protect and represent your brand to the best of their ability. Inconsistent customer service will kill your brand. Your people are at the heart of your brand and branding efforts. Every Category of One company excels and lives the following three rules: 1. Know more about the customer than anyone else. 2. Get closer to the customer than anyone else. 3. Emotionally connect with the customer better than anyone else. Your job is to get to know the customer. Pay attention to them. Connect with them on a deeper more intimate level. Discover their real problem and show them how you or your products can solve it. This takes time to develop, but knowing about your customer going into the relationship is a powerful selling tool. Have you noticed something different about your customers lately? Their

expectations are higher than they were before. They let you know when they’re not happy with you, on social media and with their friends. They expect quality, even at entry level price points. They are looking for a total buying experience, with minimal inconveniences. Spend time training and developing a culture in your company that encourages your employees to learn about the customer and consistently serve with an excellent attitude. Find areas of the business where you can exploit your differences from your competition and set yourself apart for them. Make doing business with you an experience that is pleasing to the customer. When you do that, start all over again, take everything to a higher level. That way, your competitors won’t ever catch up with you. Becoming A Category Of One is a great read. Joe Calloway has several other books that also deserve a place on your business bookshelf. Pick one up and see how he challenges your thinking.

“Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.”

revenue going to its mission. The truth? Goodwill is made up of 185 autonomous non-profit affiliates, worldwide, each governed by an independent board of directors. It has no “owner,” and no one named Mark Curran has ever been associated with Goodwill. In addition, our Goodwill provided career services last year to more than 25,000 individuals. We did it by spending more than 86 cents of every dollar in revenue on our mission – far more than the “zero cents” cited in the graphic. All of this information is easy to find, along with facts that debunk the infographic’s lies about other non-profits. It doesn’t require a trip to a library – just a few touches on keys, and the truth is right there. As a result, there are only two possible explanations for anyone who shares such false information: maliciousness or laziness. Unless you want to be considered mean or lazy, please think before you share lies on the Internet – especially about agencies working hard to do good in your community.

Sadly, you would be wrong. Lies now spread infinitely faster than in Swift’s day. The truth? It’s routinely ignored by the guy in the recliner who would rather share snarky memes matching his jaded worldview than to take 0.39 seconds to fact-check. This paradoxical phenomena is maddening. The truth is easier to find than at any point in our planet’s history, yet lies are stronger than ever. It’s an especially sore subject for many non-profits because of an absurd message that circulates through social media, usually at this time of year. This brainless infographic – ironically labeled “Think before you donate” – spreads pure nonsense about executive compensation of national non-profits and funding for the missions of those agencies. As an example, it says Goodwill is “owned” by a man named Mark Curran who makes $2.3 million a year, with no

Eddie Kennedy is the owner of Great Deals on Furniture in Augusta and an avid reader of business books. Eddie believes every business owner should invest in themselves by reading, but if you can’t, then read his column every month to see what he learned. Have you read any great business books? Let Eddie know at eddie@greatdealsaugusta.com.

Barry L. Paschal is Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA, parent organization of Helms College at www.helms.edu.


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Graniteville looking to thrive again Trust hopes to turn empty mills into pedestrian-friendly shopping area

By Elisabeth Curry, Senior Writer Historic Hickman Hall in Graniteville, S.C., just a few miles from downtown Aiken, has been a landmark in the mill town since the building was constructed for the Graniteville Manufacturing Company in 1907. The deteriorating structure, which once housed offices and a community center for the mill workers and their families, has been given a breath of new life with its recent renovations, which are estimated to be complete by early January. Hickman Hall, however, is only the beginning of what is planned for Graniteville. The transformation was instigated by the Horse Creek Trust, a non-profit organization which takes its name from Graniteville’s proximity to Horse Creek Valley. The non-profit plans to revitalize Graniteville by converting abandoned textile mills and overgrown lots into a pedestrian-friendly area with local shops, outdoor recreation opportunities and cultural elements that will encourage visitors. Looking to the past for the future “The history of Graniteville influences the project because that ties into what we want to do now,” said Catie Rabun, Director of Planning and Development for the Horse Creek Trust. “We’re looking to the past to create a new era of industry.” Graniteville once thrived as a mill town, dating back to 1845 when William Gregg created a community based around necessities and amenities for the workers of a largescale cotton mill. Gregg not only initiated construction of the mill, but also homes, churches, stores and a school, most of which were built out of granite. The Graniteville Company kept Graniteville as its central location until 1996, when the company was bought by Avondale Mills. By 2006, Avondale Mills had either closed or sold all of its plants. “Mills were probably close to the end of their economic cycle anyway,” said Rabun, “but when the train wreck occurred in 2005, that really finalized things. The mills never opened back up again.” The 2005 train wreck devastated the community. A freight train struck a parked train and a train car carrying liquid chlorine ruptured, releasing a cloud of highly toxic chorine gas. Nine people were killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced from their homes. “It was a self-sustaining community for the most part,” Rabun said. “Housing, school, recreation, and the mills. Since all of that slowed down, over the past few years, buildings have started to deteriorate, things are overgrown.”

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The recently-renovated historic Hickman Mill has been the centerpiece of Graniteville for more than 150 years.

Rabun described the Horse Creek Trust and its plans to revitalize the area as a way to attract visitors, and eventually settlers as the project creates more jobs. “People live here because they love Graniteville,” said Rabun. “We want to create a new vision. What can the new generation of users of these buildings – about a million square feet of vacant mill buildings – do with them? Someone can come in and breathe new life into it.” While optimistic about the impact the project will have on bringing new business to the community, Rabun says it’s hard to speculate, since the revitalization remains in the beginning stages of planning and implementation. First steps Hickman Hall is just the first step in the ambitious plan, which Rabun imagines will take full advantage of the aspects of the community that are unique. The goal is to draw visitors to Graniteville in a spirit of collaboration with nearby communities. “Graniteville has its own identity because of the structure of the buildings, the recreation, our water assets,” said Rabun. “We want to be unique – not competition for the surrounding communities. This is a new lease on life for this place.” Rabun suspects that future renovation projects and an untapped market will attract both current business owners and entrepreneurs. The mill properties the Trust will work to restore weren’t built for the types of uses they will be put to as shops, cultural elements and recreational centers. The juxtaposition caused by repurposing the buildings will be, in Rabun’s words, “edgy, cool, and urban.”

The response from Graniteville’s residents, according to Rabun, has been overwhelmingly positive, due in no small part to the amount of community involvement the Horse Creek Trust has encouraged. The pedestrian-friendly strategy may also contribute to confidence in the project. Many similar large-scale restoration projects place major focus on accessibility to the area, concentrating on how visitors will be able to get to the area easily, at the cost of what will be experienced once they reach their destination. The Horse Creek Trust is adamant that the Graniteville revitalization will place its focus on public places, the pedestrian, and the overall experience. The restored Hickman Hall will house offices for the Horse Creek Trust, as well as Recleim, an appliance recycling company whose flagship facility is located in Graniteville. The first major employer in the area since the train derailment, Recleim was established in Graniteville due in large part to the efforts of Pete Davis, owner of the Atlanta-based private investment firm Peachtree Investment Solutions. Using available tax credits An extensive knowledge of tax credits has allowed Davis to provide the Horse Creek Trust the financial expertise necessary to make its vision for Graniteville a reality. “Tax credits help on the equity side of things,” Rabun explained, “because Graniteville is in the state that it’s in. The reason why Graniteville is primed for this is because there are three tax credits available here – historical, new market and one for textile mills. Pete Davis is in the area often. He really identified the opportunity here, and he’s just fallen in love with Graniteville.”

Currently members of the Horse Creek Trust are interviewing planning companies in the hopes that by December, those involved in the project can begin their charrette process – an intense, multi-day collaborative planning process involving the stakeholders, designers and general public. The result of the charrette will be a trackable evolution of ideas that is, in the end, distilled into a master plan for the revitalization. Natural resources Rabun hopes that the little-known water assets the area contains will become major attractors for not only visitors, but also businesses with a recreational focus. Horse Creek runs straight through Graniteville, but is not well traveled. Rabun said that the community also boasts several ponds that are as of now surrounded by private property, rendering them nearly inaccessible. The Horse Creek Trust anticipates opening access to those water assets, leveraging features unique to Graniteville into an incentive to visit. Canoeing, kayaking, biking, access to multimodal trails are just a small part of the vision for the area. Many of the buildings slated to be restored will be used for manufacturing and production, as well as containing modern and interesting uses that serve to bring people into the town. “I think just by the nature of new things going on, it’s going to attract entrepreneurs,” Rabun said. “There’s a lack of competition, and it’s something new and exciting that also ties back into the history of Graniteville and what William Gregg built here. We don’t just want to create a new vision – we also want to honor Gregg’s original vision.”


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Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant opens in North Augusta A new Mexican restaurant in North Augusta is finally open. Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant opened on Aug. 28 in Sweetwater Square Shopping Center at Exit 5 in North Augusta after a delay of several months while the owners modified the interior and the kitchen. The interior has a more modern look and a different color scheme than many Mexican restaurants. “They wanted to make something that distinguished them from other restaurants,” manager Paolo Ortiz said. The restaurant has three owners. The name Pablo’s comes from a former restaurant in Martinez where one of the owners had worked in the 1990s.

Ortiz said so far customer patronage has been up and down but it is picking up. “We’re getting a little bit more exposure,” he said. “We’ve been having repeat customers.” The restaurant seats 120 and has a full bar that will serve, among other drinks, the Mexican drinks horchata and tamarindo. Ortiz said they are in the process of setting up daily specials and a happy hour. The restaurant is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Ortiz said their burritos have been popular so far, especially the Grande Burrito Loco and Mosquetero. Pablo’s is located next to the Crazy Buffet Chinese restaurant, which opened several months ago.

Business openings, closings and moves

Openings PDQ Another new restaurant is coming to Washington Road at the I-20 exit. PDQ restaurant, which opened a restaurant at the intersection of Washington and Belair roads in Evans in the past year, is in the process of building a second location at the site of a former Circle K gas station on the edge of the Washington Crossing Shopping Center. Demolition work on the old building is nearly complete. Patrick Cozart, operating partner of the new facility, expects work on the 3,500-square-foot store to begin soon. If the weather cooperates, he said the store should be open in mid- to late-January. PDQ sells chicken and turkey tenders and breasts, chicken sandwiches, salads, freshcut fries, cole slaw and sliced apples. PDQ stands for People Dedicated to Quality. Cozart said the success of the Evans location led to opening the second store. “We’ve had very good response,” he said. “Everyone is impressed with our service, the friendliness of the staff, the quality of the food and the cleanliness of the restaurant.” He said the Washington Crossing store will be nearly identical to the one in Evans. It will hire 50-60 employees. The only drawback to the location is limited parking. Cozart said there will be parking for the customers and he is working with Whole Foods to use some of their parking for employees. Cozart has 25 years of restaurant management experience and is looking forward to the new store. “We’re really eager to start interacting with the people in Richmond County,” he said. Mattress Firm A new Mattress Firm store has opened in Aiken, just a pillow’s throw from the old store. The new store opened three weeks ago on Whiskey Road, just three-quarters of a mile

22 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

from the Mattress Firm store in the Aiken Mall, also on Whiskey Road. A representative of the store said that it is part of their business plan to have two stores close together. The representative said the two locations close together makes it more convenient for customers. Both stores carry the same name-brand mattresses. The company followed the same model in Augusta, where it has a store on each end of the Augusta Exchange on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway. Waffle House People in Martinez will be able to satisfy their waffle fix a bit more conveniently. A Waffle House is planned for the corner of Davis and Pleasant Home roads, off Exit 196 and about a mile from the Augusta Exchange, according to Parker Dye, realtor with Jordan Trotter Commercial Real Estate which handled the property sale. It will be a corporately-owned Waffle House. The property was rezoned from professional to general business by the Augusta Planning Commission and awaits approval by the Augusta Commission. The property is located next to The Snug restaurant and is currently a vacant lot. Dye did not know any details on when construction would start or when it would be completed. The closest Waffle House to the new location is on Wheeler Road near George C. Wilson Drive. Tippy Cakes When Tiffany Jones’ daughter turned 5, she baked a cake for the big birthday party. “People asked, ‘Who made this cake. It’s terrible!’” she recalled. Now, 11 years later and with lots of learning behind her, Jones has opened her own bakery, Tippy Cakes, in Harlem with cakes and other goodies that will bring much more positive reviews. Tippy Cakes, 203 N. Louisville St., in Harlem, officially opened on Oct. 3.

“Ever since I was younger, it had always been my dream to own and operate a bakery,” Jones said. After that initial baking fiasco, Jones went back to basics. She practiced with various recipes that she tried out on friends and family, and took Wilton’s cake decorating classes to hone her skills. Jones named the store after her grandfather’s nickname for her. She grew up in Harlem and after moving away, was happy to return to her hometown to open the bakery. Tippy Cakes currently offers a large selection of custom cakes, cookies, cake pops, and candy, but they are always working on new recipes. “We will be introducing new types of pastries every so often,” Jones said. Tippy Cakes will also be hosting birthday parties and bridal showers. For more information, visit tippy-cakes. com. Navy Federal Credit Union Navy Federal Credit Union opened its second location in the CSRA. This location will be in the Grovetown, Gateway Shopping Center next to Just Beds. The bank opened for business on Monday, Sept. 28. The other location is the Augusta Exchange next to Men’s Wearhouse. Purely Painted Market A North Augusta woman and her husband have opened the shop of her dreams at 1036 Broad Street. Sandra and Mike Sanders opened Purely Painted Market last month. The new store sells painted furniture and home décor. They will also hold interactive paint workshops for those who want to learn to create their own treasures. Sandra Sanders began retailing CeCe Caldwell’s Chalk & Clay Paints in Aiken while working full-time at University of South Carolina Aiken. After renting space in two Aiken stores and working her business on Saturdays for more than two years, she left her job to open the shop of her

dreams with her husband, who retired from Shepeard Community Blood Center earlier this year. Friends Lisbeth and Craig Stangohr of Aiken are working partners in the business. A working paint studio and classroom are housed on the mezzanine level and overlook a wealth of vintage inspiration and an eclectic selection of gift and décor items. She continues to use CeCe Caldwell’s nontoxic paints and finishes that are free of the volatile organic compounds usually found in do-it-yourself paint lines. The combination of chalk and clay makes it easy for painters to create weathered, chipped and distressed projects with a variety of techniques. Aspen Dental A new Aspen Dental opened in Aiken on Thursday, Sept. 24.  Located at 1961 Whiskey Road,  the practice will provide  dental services that range from dentures and preventive care to general dentistry and restoration.       Dr. Logan Nalley, lead dentist in the new dental office, received his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree at Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry. The Aiken dental office is one of 16 Aspen Dental-branded locations in South Carolina, a state where 44 of 46 counties, including Aiken County, have dental health professional shortage areas as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to a study conducted in 2013 by Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, each new Aspen Dentalbranded office supports local community growth by contributing more than $1.3 million in positive economic impact through job creation and capital investment. The local community benefits through investment in office construction, furniture and fixtures, jobs created and wages and benefits paid, taxes, and investment in marketing and advertising. continued on page 23


The Snug has new owners, new menu selections The Snug restaurant is under new ownership and is offering some new menu items, including the return of the lunch menu. Tom Sparks and Christine Grove bought the restaurant on Davis Road near Pleasant Home Road in Martinez on June 10. Taylor Smith, office assistant, said the first order of business was to revamp the kitchen and the food items. “Food was our main priority,” she said, “although the ambience was a high second.” Steak had been a prime offering of The Snug for years, and Certified Angus ribeye, New York strip, filet mignon and prime rib continue to top the offerings. Each of them can be topped with a variety of sauces. But also on the menu now are crab legs, crab cakes, pork chops, chicken breasts, a changing fish special and four salads.

The Snug had been closed for lunch for about a year, but it is open again now from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. with some new lunch items. Ribeye and filet mignon are available for lunch, as well as a burger made with ground steak. Chicken, pasta and vegan selections are also included on the lunch menu. The Snug has a full bar serving wine, beer and liquor. Smith said eventually the interior will get a makeover, too. The Snug has a room for private parties of up to 18. Jack Daniel is the head chef and back-ofthe-house manager, while Damon Sparks serves as the front-of-the-house manager. Also on tap for The Snug next year is turning the attached building into a bakery. That spot has been a liquor store and a va-

por store. Smith said the plan is to bake cakes and other dessert items for The Snug, but also

for purchase by the general public. There will also be space in that building for another meeting room.

mer when it bought the Cudos floral department and merged it into their own. Computer Creations A longtime computer repair business has finally hung out its shingle. Computer Creations has been in the computer repair business for about 22 years, operating for two decades from the owner’s home. About 18 months ago the business moved into the Spectrum Technology building, owned by Dan Sprankle, at Davis Road and Executive Center Drive in Martinez. They recently hung a banner sign on the building with the company name and phone number. David, the owner of Computer Creations (he did not give his last name), said he became interested in computer systems while stationed at Fort Gordon in 1985. When he retired from the military, he went to work for Computer Creations. He bought the business from the owner when he moved to the new location on Davis Road. Computer Creations repairs PCs and has a few new and used systems for sale as well. He said he will also help his customers figure out their operating system, especially the new Windows 10 system.

Inn Express,” he said. “They’re community oriented.” Reddy said the decision to sell had to do with the time factor. The hotel had been run by a management company but about six months ago he released them and took over the management himself. “I was hoping to keep it but it was getting too much for me to handle,” he said. “It was taking too much of my time. And I had a good offer to buy it.” Reddy is involved in a number of community organizations and he expects to be even more involved now. Reddy bought the former Regency Inn in 2009, stripped it down to the steel frame and rebuilt it into a modern Holiday Inn Express. The dramatic change in the building drew a lot of praise. “I made some money on it but I got more satisfaction out of the number of people who complimented me for what it did for the area,” Reddy said. Reddy still owns the old Woolworth building at 8th and Broad streets that he bought in February. The 46,000-sq.-ft. building has been vacant since 1982. No tenant has been secured yet for the building, although he has had some interested parties, including a small private college. He is working on drawings to remodel the upstairs, possibly into apartments. Although he’s had success in turning old buildings in to something new, Reddy has his eyes on a different venture in the future. “I’m thinking about putting a solar power plant in the CSRA somewhere,” he said. “Alternate energy has been my passion for the last 30 years.” Sherman & Hemstreet Two long-time real estate agencies have merged after a deal completed in September. Sherman & Hemstreet Real Estate Company announced a merger with McBride Realty, Inc. The transaction was completed on Sept. 17 for an undisclosed sales price. Sherman & Hemstreet, which has been in continued on page 24

Business openings, closings and moves

Closings continued from page 22 La Maison A downtown Augusta restaurant has closed following the death of its owner. La Maison on Telfair closed on Sept. 30. The owner, Chef Heinz Sowinski, died of a heart-related condition at Emory University Hospital on Sept. 8. He was 69. Sowinski, a native of Germany, bought the historic home at the corner of 4th and Telfair streets in 1992. The home was built in 1854. It had previously been a restaurant called Asher’s Corner. La Maison was known for its extensive wine collection as well as exotic dishes like kangaroo, ostrich and buffalo. The restaurant also contained the Veritas Wine and Tapas Lounge. On his website, Sowinksi was quoted as saying, “The greatest reward is not medals on the wall but rather the elated guest that returns again and again!” La Maison was a popular dining option for visitors during Masters Week. Sowinski had created meals for the Masters champions as well. The building will be put up for sale, being marketed as a restaurant.

Learning Express After eight years of helping parents and their children, an Evans store will close so the owner can spend more time with her own children. Susy Allen, owner of Learning Express in Mullins Crossing, announced that she will be closing her store the week before Thanksgiving. She wants to spend more time with her own children, one of them a junior in high school who will start making college visits soon. The upscale educational toy store moved to Mullins Crossing three years ago after five years in the Academy Sports Shopping Center. Marketers from the Learning Express corporate headquarters will be working with Allen and her husband, Columbia County Commissioner Trey Allen, on various holiday sales and events, including a Silhouette Artist event still scheduled for Nov. 4. “We want to make sure we take care of everyone before the holidays,” Allen said.

Moves Martina’s Flowers A flower shop is replanting itself a halfmile west of its current location. Martina’s Flowers and Gifts, a long-time fixture in the West Town Shopping Center at Davis and Washington roads, will move to 3925 Washington Road on Nov. 1. That is the site that most recently held Ivan’s Spin Gallery, which moved to a location on Bobby Jones Expressway a few months ago. Heather Donnelly, manager of Martina’s, said the company bought the building and is tailoring it for their specific needs. “It’ll have a more open floor plan,” she said. “The designers won’t be so far away from the customers.” Donnelly said the merchandise, flowers and gifts, will remain the same, as will the employees. Martina’s has 20 employees. “We’re not changing anything about the business except the floor plan,” she added. Martina’s grew somewhat this past sum-

Mergers and Acquisitions Holiday Inn Express The Holiday Inn Express on Broad Street near Gordon Highway has been sold to a hotel group from the Atlanta area. T.R. Reddy, who had completely gutted and rebuilt the hotel, said that Global Hotel Group of Stockbridge, Ga., bought the facility for $10.3 million. He said it will remain a Holiday Inn Express and he expects all the current staff to remain in place. Global Hotel Group has 17 hotels, most of them in Georgia, but also in Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas and Nebraska. Reddy said the new owners plan on maintaining the quality standards he put into the hotel. “We’re fixing up some things for them that go beyond what is required by Holiday

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Companies merge to expand employer services Group & Benefits Consultants has joined ACHS Insurance, a wholly owned subsidiary of Acrisure LLC, to expand its services and offer property and casualty insurance to current and future clients. The alliance with ACHS Insurance allows Groups & Benefits Consultants to come under the umbrella of Acrisure, which was founded in 2005 and is among the top 20 largest U.S. insurance brokers as well as top 10 privately held.   With the merger, Russell Head will serve as president and Michael Carraway will remain CEO of ACHS Insurance.  “This allows both companies to be an integral part of the Acrisure family,” said Head. “It will also allow for more support and services both at a local level as well as nationally as future investments are currently in the process.”  Established in 1997, Group & Benefits Consultants is Augusta’s largest privately held employee benefits firm while consulting on a variety of benefit plans, including medical and dental insurance, short-term and long-term disability products, group life insurance, group long-term care and company retirement plans. Through the utilization of new technologies, software and exclusive arrangements Group & Benefits has introduced new platforms on wellness, HR compliance, private exchanges, data analytics and education in health care reform.  ACHS Insurance, also based in Augusta,

began in 1990 and is licensed in 15 states, including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama. ACHS Insurance provides unique specialized insurance contracts for both their commercial employer business as well as individual personal insurance such as auto and home.   “This is a colossal deal within the CSRA insurance brokerage community,” said Head. “To combine the largest local commercial and employee benefits firms as a united entity alongside national corporate support – it is a game changer.”  Head said that Group & Benefits clients have been requesting the opportunity to purchase property and casualty insurance along with their employee benefits.  “I now have very strategic relationships, specialty markets and programs, as well as additional services that we could never access before now,” he said. “On the employee benefits side it will be business as usual but with an increase in access to some unique technologies and software that will be proprietary to us. We now have even more exclusive arrangements to help serve our clients beyond what we were already providing.”  Head added that with the merger, the two companies have the advantage of leveraging its combined sizes in joining a top 20 national insurance firm while still providing a local presence to deliver unique products

and services with expert advice and consultation. Future expansion plans include a new 20,000-square-foot  office building in Columbia County to accommodate more than 45 employees.   Head said that he and Carraway are also discussing the purchase of one or two additional insurance agencies in the area. 

“We will be very strategic as to who those partners will be,” Head said. “Regarding new offerings, I have spent a great deal of time and energy in the creative planning mode; thus we will be introducing some new products and programs to the marketplace in the near future.” For more information, visit ACHS Insurance website at achsinsurance.com.

continued from page 23 business for more than 90 years, specializes in commercial real estate, commercial and residential property management and community association management. Tommy McBride, owner and broker for McBride Realty, Inc., has been in the real estate business for 46 years. The McBride office and employees will be absorbed into the Sherman & Hemstreet space on Walton Way Extension. Currently Sherman & Hemstreet manages approximately 3,000 properties throughout the southeast, most of which are in the CSRA. This merger will double their single­ family management portfolio and will expand their reach into Columbia County, where most of McBride Realty’s rentals are located. “This move to merge with McBride Realty was a strategic move for our firm,” said Joe Edge, broker of Sherman and Hemstreet, said. “Sherman & Hemstreet has been a leader in real estate in the CSRA for over 90 years. While our focus has primarily been on commercial real estate and community association management we have also stayed involved in residential property management.” When asked about his decision to sell McBride Realty, owner and broker Tommy McBride, said, “After 46 years in the real estate business I decided that it was time to

merge my firm with another local firm. After several offers I decided to go with Sherman & Hemstreet because I felt my firm’s core values matched theirs and they would do the best job taking care of my clients that I have had relationships with for many years.” Credit Union Merger Two local credit unions merged earlier this month in order to bring members more products, services and locations to handle their financial business. Last week, University Health Federal Credit Union members voted to approve the merger between University Health FCU and Augusta Metro FCU. Members will not be able to use the branches interchangeably until operational systems are combined on Dec. 1. “The merger brings our members modern financial tools in the form of electronic products and services, as well as giving them additional branch locations,” said Randy Weed, University Health FCU CEO. “This is a tremendous ‘win-win’ for our members.” With this merger, University Health FCU will become another Augusta Metro FCU location, bringing the credit union’s total assets to more than $113 million, and the combined membership to more than 21,000. University Health FCU members will gain access to more digital products offered

by Augusta Metro FCU, such as mobile banking, mobile check deposit and Pocket2Pocket, a program that allows members to send money via text or email. Along with more products and services, University Health FCU members will be able to use any of Augusta Metro FCU’s four branches, in addition to their own, for their banking needs. “We are excited about this merger and the opportunities it’ll bring for the members of both credit unions,” said Sherry Saxon, Augusta Metro FCU CEO. “At Augusta Metro, we are committed to providing exceptional services to our members so that we can make a positive difference in their lives.” Gray Television Gray Television, which owns Channel 12 WRDW-TV, has reached an agreement to buy all the television and radio stations of Schurz Communications – which includes Channel 26 WAGT-TV. Channel 12 is the CBS affiliate and Channel 26 is the affiliate of NBC and CW. Over time, Gray expects to consolidate WAGTTV’s  operations with Gray’s existing operations in this market. Gray anticipates that the FCC license for  WAGT-TV  will be offered in the upcoming FCC spectrum auction. The $442.5 million transaction brings Gray’s operations to 49 television markets in 28 states, including 39 stations ranked

No. 1 in their markets. “Today is a momentous day in Gray’s 118-year history,” said Hilton Howell, Jr., Gray’s President and CEO.  “Through the Schurz transaction, we will significantly expand the quality of our portfolio of leading television stations. We welcome more dedicated reporters, account executives, and technologists to our growing family. Quite simply, Gray’s existing stations will make the Schurz stations stronger, while the Schurz stations will make our existing stations better.” “In a rapidly consolidating industry where size and scale matter more than ever before, we have come to the realization that Gray Television would be the best steward to ensure our stations succeed over the long-term,” explained  Todd Schurz, President and CEO of Schurz.  “Gray knows how to operate top stations in small and medium-sized markets, and they have an entrepreneurial and decentralized culture.” In addition to Channel 26, through the transaction Gray also acquired the Schurz television stations in Wichita, Kan., Roanoke, Va., Springfield, Mo., South Bend, Ind., Anchorage, Alaska, and Rapid City, S.D. Radio stations included are in South Bend, Ind., Lafayette, Ind., and Rapid City, S.D.

The employees of of ACHS Insurance Services. Photo by Melissa Gordon

Business openings, closings and moves

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Business Accounting Christine Hall

No Free Lunch

Some canceled debts have to be reported to IRS as income Generally, debt that is forgiven or canceled by a lender is considered taxable income by the IRS and must be included as income on your tax return. Examples include a debt for which you are personally liable such as mortgage debt, credit card debt, and in some instances, student loan debt. When that debt is forgiven, negotiated down or canceled you will receive Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your financial institution or credit union. Form 1099-C shows the amount of canceled or forgiven debt that was reported to the IRS. Creditors who forgive $600 or more of debt are required to issue this form. If you receive a Form 1099-C, don’t ignore it. You may not have to report that entire amount shown on Form 1099-C as income. The amount, if any, you must report

depends on all the facts and circumstances. Generally, however, unless you meet one of the exceptions or exclusions discussed below, you must report any taxable canceled debt reported on Form 1099-C as ordinary income. Under the federal tax code, there are five exceptions and four exclusions for tax year 2015. Here are the five most commonly used: 1. Amounts specifically excluded from income by law such as gifts, bequests, devises or inheritances In most cases, you do not have income from canceled debt if the debt is canceled as a gift, bequest, devise or inheritance. For example, if an acquaintance or family member loaned you money (and for whom you signed a promissory note) died and relieved you of the obligation to pay back the loan in his or her will, this exception would apply. 2. Cancellation of certain qualified student loans Certain student loans provide that all or part of the debt incurred to attend a qualified educational institution will be canceled if the person who received the loan works for a certain period of time in certain professions for any of a broad class of employers. If your student loan is canceled as the result of this type of provision, the cancellation of this debt is not included in your gross income. 3. Canceled debt, that if it were paid by a cash basis taxpayer, would

Business Interaction Pam Hanson

Getting a Leg Up

Learning to barter can give you a competitive advantage Let me ask you something. What is your competitive advantage? It doesn’t have to be just one thing. You probably have competitive advantages for different aspects of your business, products and services. Why not add barter to your list. Bartering gives businesses a competitive advantage over the competition. How do you get a leg up on your competition, no matter what it is that you’re competing over? Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Simple. You have to be

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bold and open-minded enough to consider variables that ‘the other guy’ either, A) hasn’t thought about before, or B) completely undervalues. And when you find the one exclusive advantage you exploit it time and again until the rest of the world finally catches up.” Becoming a member of a barter group, also called a trade exchange, can provide a competitive edge. Barter clients are new clients that bypass competing businesses to do business at your establishment, while you are maintaining your existing cash clients. A barter group introduces you to a whole new network of businesses that whenever possible do business with each other. Barter also conserves cash. For example, if you owned a hotel that had 10 vacant rooms at $100/ night and you need a new copy machine priced at $1,000, barter provides a way in which you can buy your copier, fill your rooms (at your cost on the rooms) and maintain your cash. The same is true for filling empty tables for a restaurant, moving inventory for retailers and manufacturers or increasing billable hours for service business.

be deductible If you use the cash method of accounting, then you do not realize income from the cancellation of debt if the payment of the debt would have been a deductible expense. 4. Debt canceled in a Title 11 bankruptcy case Debt canceled in a Title 11 bankruptcy case is not included in your income. 5. Debt canceled during insolvency Do not include a canceled debt as income if you were insolvent immediately before the cancellation. In the eyes of the IRS, you would be considered insolvent if the total of all of your liabilities was more than the FMV of all of your assets immediately before the cancellation.

A barter group is based on a one-tomany scenario. In addition, barter customers will bring you all of the cash referrals that your present clients bring. You will gain new cash paying customers, too – as long as you give your barter customers the same great services and pricing as you offer everyone else. So why doesn’t everyone belong to a barter group? One reason that some businesses are “sour” on barter is they have only experienced barter on a oneto-one basis. One-to-one barter doesn’t give you a competitive advantage because you’re only exchanging your products and services for one other business’ products and services. That’s limiting because each business must want what the other has to offer. A barter group eliminates those restrictions. This is because a barter group is based on a one-to-many scenario. For example, the restaurant owner sells meals at the restaurant and earns

If you exclude canceled debt from income under one of the exclusions listed above, you must reduce certain tax attributes (certain credits, losses, basis of assets, etc.), within limits, by the amount excluded. If this is the case, then you must file Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Basis Adjustment), to report the amount qualifying for exclusion and any corresponding reduction of those tax attributes. Hall, Murphy & Schuyler, PC is a full-service public accounting firm. They have a staff of experienced professionals that stand ready to meet all of your accounting, tax and general business needs. For a complimentary consultation, call 706-8557733 or email at cmh@HMandScpas.com.

trade dollars. He then uses trade dollars to buy advertising (which helps to increase cash business.) The advertiser then uses their trade dollars to get the office cleaned. The cleaning company then uses their trade dollars to buy uniforms needed for the cleaning crews. All transactions are based on retail value of the product and services traded. That eliminates the feeling, very common in one-to-one trading, that the trade was uneven and one party or the other didn’t get their full value. A barter group works with you to bring your company new sales, increased market share and to minimize cash outlay for everyday business and personal expenses. In other words, a great competitive advantage plus much more. Pam Hanson is an owner of Local Trade Group, an organized barter group that brings its members new customers, helps them conserve cash by spending trade dollars, and liquidate excess, unused time and inventory. Members can trade locally and with thousands of members within the network for a wide range of products and services. Contact Pam at 706-469-8357 or pam@localtradegroup.com.


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UGA study: Asians, Hispanics will drive market Growth in the U.S. market is increasingly driven by Hispanic and Asian consumers, to the tune of nearly $2 trillion per year. That’s one takeaway from the 2015 Multicultural Economy report from the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth. The nation’s projected total buying power in 2015 is $13.5 trillion, a 213 percent growth since 1990. That number is bolstered by an increasingly diverse populace, according to the annual report, which provides a comprehensive statistical overview of the buying power of African-Americans, Asians, Native Americans and Hispanics for the U.S. and each of its states. For example, the U.S. Hispanic market in 2015 will be $1.3 trillion, which is larger than the GDP of Mexico. In 2020, that amount will reach $1.7 trillion. The Asian market, comprised of 18.3 million Americans, will be $825 billion in 2015 and grow to $1.1 trillion in 2020. “The Asian and Hispanic markets will really drive the U.S. consumer market,” said Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center. “Those two groups will account for a disproportionate amount of growth. The African-American market will still expand at a rate that’s compelling, but the Asian and Hispanic markets are where you see the really fast-paced growth.” The report predicts that African-Amer-

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ican buying power will be $1.2 trillion in 2015 and reach $1.4 trillion in 2020, up from $320 billion in 1990. This year’s report, available for purchase at the Selig Center’s website, also breaks down the buying power of minority subgroups, such as Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in the Hispanic category, and Asian Indians, Chinese and Japanese in the Asian category. Richer data can help businesses fine-tune their marketing efforts toward specific consumers, Humphreys said. “Although we’re already splitting the U.S. market into a number of groups, within each of these large groups are very distinct subgroups that are often quite different culturally and could to respond to advertising in different ways or may have preferences in terms of products that differ among the groups because of difference in culture or countries of origins,” Humphreys said. “So the one-size fits all marketing approach may not work as well as a more targeted strategy.” “We have the per capita amounts for these subgroups, which can explain a lot. The Asian Indian subgroup is actually smaller in population than the Chinese subgroup, but their per capita buying power is just off the charts,” he added. Humphreys has been preparing the Multicultural Economy report for 24 years. Since 1990, he has documented the ups and downs of U.S. consumers.

“The biggest change I’ve seen over time is the focus or the interest level has increased for Hispanic estimates after Census 2000,” he said. “That was kind of a wakeup call to corporate America about the importance of the Hispanic consumer. Many companies found that they were behind in terms of targeted market efforts to Hispanic consumers.” “Since the Great Recession, I’ve seen an interest in the Asian buying power numbers pick up,” he added. “Part of the reason for that is demographics—there are just more

Asian consumers now. But another reason is the fact that the Asian group was less affected by the Great Recession than the other groups. “That’s primarily because Asians tend to be very highly educated and therefore were in occupations and industries that were less affected by the Great Recession. Asian buying power held up better than the buying power of the other groups, so I think companies were looking for opportunities in that market more than they were prior to the Great Recession.”


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Businessperson of the Month Dr. Ron Bryant, Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Smile Awhile

Making people feel good about their dental work makes Ron Bryant smile By Gary Kauffman People often feel like life has kicked them in the teeth, but for Dr. Ron Bryant, a literal kick in the teeth helped him form his career choice that has lasted a quarter of a century. Bryant recently celebrated his 25th year as a dentist in North Augusta, even though that wasn’t the career he started in. Bryant was raised in Houston, Texas, the son of a civil engineer and a school teacher. He began his career in construction, a job he loved, especially the interior work. “I loved the detailed work and being around people,” he said. “Unfortunately, construction isn’t real steady work.” Casting around for another job that involved detail work and being around people, Bryant decided on dentistry and attended dental school at the University of Texas in San Antonio. Bryant’s history with dentistry began in high school when a dentist fixed what could have been a tragic situation. “When I was about 15 or 16 I got a steel-toed boot kicked in my mouth,” Bryant recalled. “It knocked out my four front teeth. My mouth required 37 stitches.” A dentist was able to do restoration work that left him without any noticeable disfigurement, starting his fascination with dentistry. “I was amazed at how well he could put it together,” Bryant said. “It was hard going through it but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.” After completing dental school, Bryant considered a practice on Hilton Head Island, but found that living on the island was much more stressful than vacationing there. While there, though, he met a vacationing dentist from North Augusta. After a conversation with him, he decided to buy his practice and move to North Augusta. Bryant found that a small town offered a different lifestyle than the one he’d experienced in the nation’s fourthlargest city, but it is a lifestyle he’s enjoyed. “To me, this is like Mayberry after coming from Houston,” he said. The building where he started his practice on West Avenue was small, so he tore it down and, incorporating the lot next to it, built a larger, two-story building. Church has been as much a part of his life as his practice since coming to North Augusta. “We moved here on Friday and Saturday, then on Sunday we were in church at First Baptist of North Augusta and have been there ever since,” he said. Going to the dentist tops many people’s lists of most dreaded events. Bryant works hard at taking the dread out of it. “I talk to them in a gentle voice and I keep calm, which keeps them calm,” he said. “If they say they’re nervous about going to the dentist I say, ‘I’m just a veterinarian so we’ll be okay.’ That lightens the mood.” He also promises to not start on a patient until the work area is completely numb. He also fully explains the pro-

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Dr. Ron Bryant recently celebrated his 25th year as a dentist in North Augusta. Photo by Gary Kauffman

cedure to those who want explanations. His gentle demeanor has helped ease the discomfort of many of his patients. “I’ve had a lot of Chicken Littles in here and turned them around,” he said. During his 25 years, Bryant has seen a lot of advancement in technology in dentistry. Some of the material for crowns and implants are now stronger than real teeth. Anesthesia has improved, too. Most x-rays are done digitally now, which has minimized the exposure to radiation many people have feared. “You’ll get more radiation from the sun walking back to your car than from the x-rays,” Bryant said. Of course, not all changes have been positive. He said working with insurance companies has become increasingly more difficult. “In the last 40 years they haven’t changed dental benefits at all,” he said. “It puts a damper on what you can do. I don’t like dealing with them.” In the past 25 years he’s seen an improvement in the mouths of his patients, thanks to his education efforts to have them take proper care of their teeth between visits. “I see people that when they first came in their teeth were terrible,” he said. “Now they just come in for a cleaning. It’s so rewarding to me and they appreciate it, too. I tell them that

if they do dental care the right way, they’ll keep their teeth for a lifetime.” Bryant, 59, is now seeing grandchildren of some of his early patients, which surprises him. “I don’t feel like I’m getting that old,” he said. But he has taken on an associate, Dr. Brooke Usry, a Millennial full of energy who helps him carry the work load. In addition to her other skills, she also does sedation dentistry. What are you passionate about in your business? I love doing cosmetic dentistry. It changes people’s lives. I’m passionate about making it look really good. I enjoy giving people the confidence to feel good about themselves. What have you learned about yourself during your time in business? Patience. I’ve learned that I can’t do it all. I have to get the team involved and work together. I’m a perfectionist so I tend to take it all on myself. So I’ve learned to delegate, to slow down and take a little easier pace. What inspires you? I draw my inspiration from God, from church, from fellowship with people, from doing good for others. Volunteering and giving back to the community makes me want to give even more. I can’t live without church – unless I’m sick, I’m there. I’ve been in

the choir for years. How do you unwind? I’m still working on that. My wife will ask me to come watch a movie with her, but I can’t sit still. I enjoy grilling out on weekends or just hanging out in the backyard, but even then I find little projects to do. I do play golf – I can forget about everything else and get into a zone. To me, that’s very relaxing. I love, love, love golf. If you could take a dream vacation, where would it be? I have a bucket list of golf courses I want to play, so I’d travel around and hit all the golf courses in the world. I know they’d probably tear me up but I’d like to say that I played them. How do you give back to the community? We sponsor a reading program at the library where kids have a chance to win a bicycle if they read 100 books. We sponsor a little league program. Of course, we donate money. I help judge the Christmas parade. What does the future hold for you and your practice? Sometimes the practice seems like a runaway train without any brakes. That’s one of the reasons I brought an associate to the practice. At 59, I can’t keep up that pace anymore but with her being here we can split the load. Maybe someday she can take it over.


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GRU doctor gives tips for dealing with cancer Before the books close on 2015, an estimated 1.6 million new cancer cases will be detected, according to the American Cancer Society. Any number of organs and tissues can be affected – prostate cancer being the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men, and for women, it’s breast cancer. Most everyone knows someone battling cancer. But what happens when it’s you? “A diagnosis of cancer can bring about feelings of shock, disbelief, fear, uncertainty, anger, guilt, sadness and more,” said Dr. Amy Lowery-Allison, a cancer psychologist and director of the Psycho-Social Oncology Program at the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center.  “People often shut down mentally when they hear the word cancer. Accepting the diagnosis and knowing what steps to take can be challenging, but working through your emotions and knowing where to seek help can make a difference.”  Lowery-Allison, who is also an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at GRU’s Medical College of Georgia, recommends these five ways to help you cope with cancer more effectively:  Get the facts. It’s true that knowledge is power, but delving into the world of cancer, information can be complex and overwhelming. It is important to only use accurate and reliable sources. Talk with your health care team; your oncologist, nurse navigator and other members of your treat-

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ment team are your best sources for explaining your diagnosis to you and your family. Ask them for information about your specific type and stage of cancer as well as your treatment options. It can be tempting to search the Internet, but keep in mind that while websites, chat groups and message boards can sometimes be helpful, the quality and accuracy vary widely. Check out the American Cancer Society website at cancer.org, or the GRU Cancer Center site at grhealth.org/cancer. “When you get information, discuss it with your health care team,” Lowery-Allison said. “Remember, general information cannot take the place of medical advice from your doctor.” Plan ahead. Knowing what to expect and establishing a plan to deal with each issue can be helpful. Together with your family and physicians, map out a treatment plan that’s best for you. Speak up and ask questions about your plan of care. Write down your questions and concerns beforehand and bring them with you to your appointment. You’ll want to know if a treatment may cause certain side effects so that you are prepared to handle them. You should also find out how long and how frequent your appointments will be so that you can prepare your family, friends and your employer. Having an established plan will also keep you on track as you complete treatments and follow up. “Ask a trusted friend or family member

to come with you to your first few appointments,” Dr. Lowery-Allison said. “They can help take notes and remember what was said.” Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition is vital before, during and after treatment. A healthy diet is necessary to keep your body functioning at its best. Highcalorie, high-protein foods are suggested to help build up strength, particularly for cancer patients going through treatment. “Nutritionists are a part of our PsychoSocial Oncology Service,” Lowery-Allison said. “They specialize in helping the needs of people as they are going through treatment and can help individuals struggling with nausea or loss of appetite.” Physical activity is important, too. Research suggests that exercise, even a short walk or light stretching at home, can help you not only cope but live longer.  Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. “Sleep is one of the most common problems people with cancer have, but one of the most important problems to address,” said Lowery-Allison, who is also a sleep specialist. “Sleep is a time for our bodies to heal and our minds to recuperate. When we don’t get the restorative sleep we need, we suffer. Staying off electronics at night, keeping your room cool, dark and quiet and relaxing and unwinding before bed can help. If your sleep problems last for more than two weeks, see a sleep specialist. There are lots of techniques

that can help you get your sleep back on track without the use of sleep medications.” Develop a support system. Accept help from your family and friends.  “People often don’t know how to accept help from others, but I always tell patients, ‘Let them help!’” Lowery-Allison said. Friends and family can run errands, make meals, provide transportation and babysit kids. Learn to accept their help. Plus, it makes others feel good to offer a hand when they don’t know what to say or do. Sometimes you can feel alienated from friends and family who don’t understand what you’re going through. It may help to talk with people who have been in your situation. Other cancer survivors can share perspectives and relate to what you are going through. You can connect with other cancer survivors through support groups. You can find out more about local support groups at the GRU Cancer Center or the American Cancer Society. Know when to get help.  It is important to recognize when you or your loved one might need the help of a professional to get through this difficult time.  “Seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of wisdom,” Lowery-Allison said. Cancer takes an emotional toll on the whole family, and many people find that the burden of cancer can result in depression, anxiety, fear and difficulty functioning as you did before cancer.


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Citizen, Business Awards honor community North Augusta Chamber taking nominations for this year’s awards By Terra Carroll, President, North Augusta Chamber of Commerce Nominations are now being accepted for the 2015 North Augusta Citizen and Small Business of the Year. The Citizen of the Year Award acknowledges an ordinary citizen who has been an extraordinary member of the North Augusta community. Last year’s winner was George Nelson. Nelson is a founding member and leader of the North Augusta Rotary Club and the creator of the bridgebuilding competition at North Augusta High School. He has also designed bridges at Living History Park. He is a recent winner of the Letellier Cup, awarded by the American Society of Civil EngineersSouth Carolina section for his contributions in civil engineering. “Each time I’ve undertaken any task, certainly, I find an awful lot of people working around me,” Nelson said of his work. “They’re the ones who really deserve all of the credit for the advancement of our community.” Stan Johnson Jewelers was named the 2014 Small Business of the Year. The Small Business of the Year Award goes to a North Augusta business that has shown growth or

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George Nelson and Stan Johnson

sustainability of their business with strong employee relations and a record of giving back to the community. The award was formerly the Small Business Person of the Year Award, but is now awarded to the business as whole. “I owe it all to my customers and to my employees and to my mother and father,” owner Stan Johnson said after a standing ovation. “If you treat people with honesty and respect, you can go a long way. I certainly appreciate it.” Johnson has owned the North Augusta business for more than 30 years. Johnson’s nomination form noted that the business is “well-known for their impeccable attention to detail and their exemplary

customer service.” There are many ways to support and recognize small businesses in our community, such as nominating a business for the Small Business of the Year Award. Why is it important to support small businesses? President Calvin Coolidge may have said it best. Regarded as “Silent Cal” he didn’t say much, but when he did, his observations were simple and quietly eloquent. He is perhaps best remembered for his statement that “the business of America is business.’’ But at the heart of it all, the business of America is small business. Thomas Watson is best known as chairman and CEO of IBM, but many do not know of his humble beginnings in small business. As a young man, Watson opened a butcher shop, and when his business failed he found work with the manufacturer of his shop’s cash register, which over time brought him into a prestigious position at one of the world’s most successful companies. Watson never forgot his love of small business, and is known for saying, “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” Small business is about heart. It’s about

making dreams come true. These dreams and hopes are vital to our local economy. Small business is about hopes and dreams. It’s about making dreams come true – the dreams of men and women who lay awake at night and consider how they can improve their life. Those dreams, those hopes, are vital to our local economy. Many small business owners are represented in our community, and for their commitment to pursuing their dream and for their contributions to our community, I ask they receive our appreciation, patronage and recognition. We encourage you to take some time to stop and see those fellow citizens who exemplify the qualities of a great citizen and outstanding business, and have made a difference in our lives and community –then take the time to nominate them. These special men and women are the individuals consistently contributing to making our community unique, strong and successful. Please email Jessica Hanson at jessica@ northaugustachamber.org for a nomination packet. Nominations must be received by Monday, Dec. 28. Don’t delay, nominate someone today!


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Upcoming Business Events

Friday, Oct. 16

A.M. Connection - Workforce Development, North Augusta Community Center (495 Brookside Ave, North Augusta). 7:30-9 a.m. Learn about this new state-of-the-art Aiken Tech Center for Energy & Advanced Manufacturing Facility. Northaugustachamber.org

Saturday, Oct. 17 Free shredding event from Associated Credit Union, 511 North Belair Road, in Evans. 9 a.m. – noon. Join Associated Credit Union for a free Shred Day. Take advantage of safe and secure on-site shredding provided by Records Management to properly dispose of all old and unwanted personal documents. Open to the public. Max 500 lbs. No 3-ring binders or binder clips. Columbiacountychamber.com

Monday, Oct. 19 Ribbon-Cutting: Rainbow of Augusta, 229 Fury’s Ferry Road, Suite 115, Augusta. 4-5 p.m. Columbiacountychamber.com

Tuesday, Oct. 20 Ribbon-Cutting: Children’s Hospital of Georgia Imaging Suite, 1146 Harper Street, Augusta. 5 p.m. augustametrochamber.com

Wednesday, Oct. 21 Business Academy: Business Ethics, Southern Wesleyan University Business Technology Center, 802 E. Martintown Road, Suite 101, North Augusta. 9:3011:30 a.m. A business workshop hosted by the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, Southern Wesleyan University, and the Great Aiken SCORE chapter. This workshop will be interactive and based on real world examples. Attendees will be able to ask about practices and situations they have experienced in their own businesses. The keynote speaker, Dr. Linda C. Rodriguez, is an assistant Professor of Management in the School of Business Administration, USC Aiken. For more information and to register, visit http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07eb azt8apd31bc1c4&llr=495wqceab.

Thursday, Oct. 22 Ribbon-Cutting: New Life Church, 215 Lewiston Road, Grovetown, 11 a.m.noon. Columbiacountychamber.com Women in Business-Spa Night Social, Palmetto Terrace, 100 Georgia Ave.,

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North Augusta. 6-8 p.m. Come network while treating your mind, body, and spirit. Northaugustachamber.org

Friday, Oct. 23 Ribbon-Cutting: Sweet Jones, LLC. The Columbia County Chamber Office, 1000 Business Boulevard, Evans. 11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. Columbiacountychamber.com Ribbon-Cutting: Seigler’s Karate Center West, 370 Fury’s Ferry Road, Suite 1, in Martinez. 9:30-10:30 a.m. Free food, fun and a free karate class! Enrollment specials good for that day only. Columbiacountychamber.com

Monday, Oct. 26 Chamber After Hours sponsored by the Remodeler’s Warehouse, 4075 Washington Road, Augusta. 5 p.m. -7 p.m. An after-hours event designed for members of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce to meet and build relationships with other business people and organizations in the Columbia County area. Columbiacountychamber.com

Tuesday, Oct. 27 Ribbon-Cutting: ERA Sunrise Realty, 104 Warren Road, Augusta. 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. Columbiacountychamber. com

Wednesday, Oct. 28 Ribbon-Cutting: Residence Inn by Marriott, 1116 Marks Church Road, Augusta. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Lunch will be served along with tours, door prizes and funnel cake. Columbiacountychamber.com

Thursday, Oct. 29 Maxwell Law Firm – 20th Anniversary Celebration, 516 West Ave., North Augusta. 4:30-6:30 p.m. Northaugustachamber.org Ribbon-Cutting: Kelly Services, 1450 Greene Street, Suite 150, Augusta (Located in the Enterprise Mill.) 4:30-5 p.m. Columbiacountychamber.com

Saturday, Oct. 31 Flack Family Chiropractic Grand Opening Party, 4246 Washington Road, Suite 6, Evans. 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Celebrate the opening of their new location with free Kona ice, hay rides, raffles, activities, prizes and face painting. Grand opening special: New patient exam and x-rays for only $100 and a $50 exam for children 12 and

under. For more information, contact 706-305-3241.

Wednesday, Nov.4 Membership 101, Columbia County Chamber Office, 1000 Business Blvd., Evans, 8:30-9:30 a.m. For new Chamber members or those wanting a refresher course. Each month the chamber will offer a one-hour class on its website. Columbiacountychamber.com

Thursday, Nov. 5 Pre-Legislative Breakfast, Savannah Rapids Pavilion, 3300 Evans to Locks Road, Martinez, 7:30-9 a.m. Georgia Department of Transportation Chairman Russell McMurry will be the keynote speaker for the annual warm-up before the start of the Georgia General Assembly. Local delegation members – Sen. Bill Jackson, Sen. Jesse Stone, Rep. Barry Flemming, Rep. Barbara Sims and Rep. Tom McCall – will discuss their expectations of the upcoming session. Columbiacountychamber.com Ribbon-Cutting: The Men’s Refinery BarberSpa and the Inside Drive, 953 Jones Street, Augusta. 4:30-7 p.m. Drinks and hors d’oeurves served. Enjoy complimentary golf, massages, corn hole games, live golf and shave demonstrations. Mensrefineryspa.com Credit Myths and Realities Workshop, hosted by the Augusta Chapter of the Georgia Small Business Development Center, UGA SBDC Augusta Classroom, 1450 Greene Street, Augusta, 4:30-7:30 p.m. $25 and a box supper is included. If you own a small business, at some point, you will most likely need financing. When that time arrives, you want to be prepared. This informative, interactive workshop will help business owners understand and navigate the financing process. georgiasbdc.org/credit-myths-and-realities

Tuesday, Nov. 10 Business Power Lunch – South Carolina Angel Network, Palmetto Terrace, 100 Georgia Ave., North Augusta. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The event speaker will be Charlie Banks, Managing Director, South Carolina Angel Network. The South Carolina Angel Network is an alliance of angel investor groups and funds from across South Carolina. Their aim is to improve the infrastructure for early stage capital formation in South Carolina through investment sourcing, regional syndication, angel group development and investor education.

There are seven angel groups so far,. Members: $25, Individual, $200, Table of eight; Non-Members: $40, Individual, $350, Table of eight. Pre-registration is required: Invoicing is not available for non-members, and RSVP cancellations must be made 48 hours in advance in order to be honored. Northaugustachamber.org

Tuesday, Nov. 17 Chamber Before Hours, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, 1000 Business Boulevard, Evans. 8- 9:15 a.m. Breakfast and networking; 8:20 a.m. 9:15 a.m., program to follow. The event will be facilitated by an industry expert on the topic and formatted as a focus group so that best practices may be shared among attendees. Columbiacountychamber.com Networking for Leads, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, 1000 Business Boulevard, Evans. 3-4 p.m. A structured program designed to promote an environment which cultivates meaningful business relationships which not only promotes one’s business, but identifies the needs of other business owners. The goal of the program is to encourage businesses to give leads, create mutually beneficial relationships, and develop a net-weaving experience where leads are received. The program will consist of a round table activity which will be followed up by an optional lunch connection, based on appropriate matching, to further enhance the leads experience. Columbiacountychamber.com

Wednesday, Nov.18 Business Academy – How to Develop a Business Plan, Southern Wesleyan University Business Technology Center, 802 East Martintown Road, Suite 101, North Augusta. 9:30-11:30 a.m. A business workshop hosted by the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, Southern Wesleyan University, and the Greater Aiken SCORE chapter. Discussion topics will include: The elements of a business plan, customer insights and knowledge, competition and pricing, marketing, finance and cash flow, and how to build a brief business plan. Presenters include Allen Budnick and John Carman , Certified SCORE Mentors from Greater Aiken SCORE. To register, visit http:// events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ebb0bqqm4d28f2 38&llr=495wqceab.


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Career & Education Missie Usry

Not Too Late

New college students still have time to pick major, be involved Often, rising college students are unsure of what the future holds or which career field is best. In such a whirlwind, high school seniors are enjoying senior week, off to prom, taking that senior trip, and marching down the aisle to Pomp and Circumstance. It’s a proud moment with family watching as they cross the stage. Where did

the time go? If you find yourself asking ‘what now?’, there is no need to panic or sit out when your peers are heading off for their freshman year of college. Here are a few steps to plan for the future, even when it has time has flown by and you may not have given it a second thought. Choose the right major. Choosing a major is a difficult decision for college students, but it can also be exciting. Most importantly, choose something that really interests you. Do not choose a field like nursing just because it is what your parents want or because it is popular. Do not choose computer technology or pre-med just because of the high salary potential. Chances are if you are not genuinely interested in your major, you will not be successful in your classes. Choosing a field that hits your passion will reflect in your classwork and your grades. More importantly, your enthusiasm will carry over into your career after graduation and help you be successful in the professional world.

If you are not sure about what interests you, do not worry. As a college freshman, you still have some time to take general education courses in areas where you’ve never been exposed. You might also conduct job shadowing or use assessments found on the Georgia Department of Labor website. The college career center is also a good resource to determine the best fit for a student’s skillset. Get involved! Joining clubs, becoming a student ambassador, working on campus as a federal work study student, serving on your college’s Student Government Association, volunteering with a student group or writing for your school’s newspaper are all great activities that can give you experience and serve as resume builders. Being in a club, like a debate club, shows you know how to work on a team and manage your time well. Volunteering with a student group to clean up the river or serve homeless in your community indicates that you think about others and would be considerate of others in the workplace.

Participating in student government develops leadership skills and great people skills. Working as a student ambassador or federal work-study student while maintaining a high GPA is an effective way to show you have strong organizational skills. Writing in the school newspaper demonstrates a student’s ability to write in a variety of styles and develops creativity that can carry over into a work environment. These activities can also help lock down a career path, so look for ways to get involved and highlight your talents. Missie Usry is the Enrollment Manager at Georgia Military College’s Augusta campus. For questions about Georgia Military College, please call 706.993.1123 or visit our website at gmcaugusta.com. Georgia Military College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which means that all credit earned at the institution is transferable to other accredited schools. Eligibility for participation in the joint enrollment program is based on students’ high school GPA and SAT or ACT scores.

Buzz on Biz Career Expo set for Feb. 9 The Third Annual Buzz on Biz Career Expo has been scheduled for Feb. 9, 2016 at the Legends Club on Washington Road. This premier hiring event brings area employers and job candidates together under one roof. “To be the best you have to hire the best,” Buzz on Biz president Neil Gordon said. “We have a lot of high-quality job candidates come through this event.” Isaac Kelly of Augusta Staffing Associates, which has participated in each of the previous years, agreed. “The Buzz on Biz Career Expo is by far the best job fair to find your skilled candidates and hard-to-find people,” he said. Greg Criste of Spherion Staffing, referring to the 2015 expo, added, “The quality

of people coming through was excellent!” The hours for the 2016 Expo have been adjusted slightly to run from 1-5:30 p.m. “We feel this will give people a better opportunity to get to the event and spend quality time talking to the employers,” Gordon said. Real McCoy Brokerage Company in Augusta has signed on as a corporate sponsor for the Career Expo. Owner Geneice McCoy helps buyers and sellers of property throughout the CSRA. She is looking to expand and believes the Career Expo will provide an excellent opportunity to find the right people for the job. Booths for the expo are available by calling Gordon at 706-589-6727 or Janine Garropy at 803-480-2800. There are also limited sponsorships still available.

TAG sponsoring job fair for military The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and TAG Greater Augusta will host a career expo for all military job seekers and their families on the Fort Gordon military base from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27. The career expo will take place at the Gordon Conference and Catering Center, located at 19th Street, Bldg. 18402. Each year TAG works in collaboration with local military bases in carrying out a series of successful career fairs across the state in order to fill the thousands of jobs in Georgia. The fairs bring together the talents of top IT companies in Georgia and highly qualified job seekers in all fields of the technology workforce. This year, the fair is sponsored by

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the Georgia Department of Labor  and the  Georgia Department of Economic Development Administration (EDA).  The event is free for employers seeking to participate with a booth and five companies have already signed up for the fair: Cox Communications, Cox Automotive (Manheim, Autotrader), LexisNexis Risk Solutions, NCR Corporation and Windstream. “We encourage all companies with job openings to sign up, as well as job seekers interested in venturing into new opportunities,” said Tino Mantella, TAG President and CEO. Companies interested in participating should contact: Heather Presley at  (404) 920-2021  hpresley@tagonline.org  or visit: http://bit.ly/1L2CSG5.

Augusta Tech awarded $3M grant Augusta Technical College was recently awarded a $3 million Predominately Black Institutions Competitive Grant by the U.S. Department of Education. The new project is a successor to the PBI project awarded in 2011 with the goal of improving the educational outcomes of African American male students. The project will enhance services of the Success Center, academic advising for Learning Support students and continue to expand the institution’s research capacity and student success agenda. New grant activities will focus on the college implementing a Prior Learning Assessment program, increasing the quality and use

of online credit-bearing courses and preparing secondary teachers and post-secondary faculty through professional development to support African American students in Dual Enrollment programs at local high schools and at Augusta Technical College. “We are thrilled to receive this news on the heels of our Commissioner’s visit to Augusta,” said college president Terry Elam. “This grant will allow us to continue the work we began in 2011 and will help us build as we move forward in the process of providing quality technical education to the students in our communities.”


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Faith at Work Steve Swanson

Pool Party

More is accomplished when workers pool their talents A couple of years ago, I returned to my hometown in northern Illinois for my high school class reunion. Yes, decades have now come and gone since the night we graduated. The first class reunions I attended didn’t seem much different from our days in high school. There seemed to be cliques and some kind of unwritten classification for each of us: Jocks, Brainiacs, Social Butterflies, and those seemingly on the fringe. This time, evidently enough time had passed between reunions so that my classmates appeared more genuine and authentic. It seemed to me we were all now just “peo-

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ple” who wanted to connect more than impress. I would venture to say that work places all too often have this type of high school mentality. There are a few folks at the top of the heap – and many others who are somehow locked in to specific roles. Boss, Office Staff, Sales Team, Marketers, Custodians, Delivery Folks, and so on. You don’t have to work in a business with a lot of employees in order to see this hierarchy at work. While I believe it makes sense to have clearly defined roles and measurable goals, we do ourselves and our work places a huge disservice by locking individuals into narrow and limited interaction with others on our team. While I might carry a specific title, I believe our organization overall is stronger, more creative, more productive and more effective when we pool our talents, experiences, perspectives and abilities. Collaboration is a trendy term of late, but a good idea. The dictionary defines it this way: “To work, one with another; cooperate.” When we understand that we’re stronger together, things get done, ideas flourish, creativity erupts and the business moves forward. The opposite is also true. When an employee sees

When we understand that we’re stronger together, things get done, ideas flourish, creativity erupts and the business moves forward. himself or herself in a limited role, they often end up with an outlook that filters many things out. When the mental process becomes “Hey, it’s not my job!” instead of “I’ve got an idea,” we end up isolated in our work, and much less effective. Back in the 1960s President John F. Kennedy challenged the brightest and best minds of our nation to send a man to the moon and return him safely to earth before the end of the decade. As you know, this was a massive undertaking, involving the talent, training and dedication of thousands of people. Because this team scattered across the country chose to work together, this challenge was met with the first successful moon landing in July 1969. You may not have a “moon-landing” sized goal in your work place, but I would suggest that you enlarge the “brain trust” and include the thoughts and vantage points of others in your organization.

Proverbs 15:22 puts it this way: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Great ideas can often come from unexpected sources. Why not ask those you work with for their ideas on the project you find yourself stuck on? Why not seek the insight of others from your team instead of the few “goto” folks you always seek out? Why not break out of the standard “This is the way we have always done it” mindset and welcome fresh new ideas? I’d encourage you to open up your circle of input to discover fresh ideas and greater progress. I challenge you to let the light of new ideas shine brightly! Steve Swanson serves as the station manager for Family Friendly 88.3 WAFJ. He’s invested 30-plus years in the world of radio and was named the Christian Music Broadcasters Program Director of the Year in 2009 and 2011. He and his wife , Susie, live in North Augusta.


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Business Lunch Review Sam’s Hot Dog Stand Susan O’Keefe

Doggone Good

Sam’s Hot Dogs offers place for a quick lunch at reasonable cost Trying to claim the spot of “top dog” is an awardwinning eatery on Belair Road. Sam’s Hot Dog Stand is making quite a statement with classically created all-beef dressed-up dogs. For a quick bite with a business buddy, Sam’s is a no brainer. Located at 337 S. Belair Road, Sam’s is easily accessible. Seating is limited to only 15 or 20 folks inside. A few tables and chairs adorn the outside sidewalk. This isn’t the place for a large meeting or gathering, but for a party of four or fewer, it could certainly fill the bill. There’s also the convenience of drive-thru service for those trying to make a brown bag meeting. Our party of six decided to eat outside in hopes of luring cooler fall temperatures to the area. As the lunch hour passed, Sam’s enjoyed a steady stream of customers from a variety of backgrounds. There were older couples leisurely lunching. A few families with young children ordered

from the kids’ menu. Sprinkled among the patrons were a few business folks. In addition to the decorated dogs, Italian sausage, bratwurst and pulled pork, all served on a hot dog bun. Fries and chips are also a mainstay on the lunch menu. When we inquired about soup, which was listed on the wall’s chalk board, we were told to stay tuned. Soups are coming soon. Dogs range from just over $2 to combo meals that cost an Alexan-

New website compiles area nightlife info into one site It’s a little easier to find out what events are happening in the CSRA, thanks to a website launched last spring by Seth Miller. “There are a lot of events that go on in Augusta but it’s so hard to find the information,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of music almost every night of the week. That’s one of the things Augusta has to offer.” Miller began pulling the information together into a calendar format at a website called Augusta Nightlife (augustanightlife.com). In addition to offering information to the public, the website also serves as an advertising tool for Miller’s website development company, Flex Perception. He also hosts some venue sites for local establishments. “A lot of bars and restaurants didn’t have a website, or hardly any marketing presence at all,” he said. The original concept for Augusta Nightlife was featuring venues where adult beverages are served. But that is evolving. “I’m trying to figure out where nightlife starts and ends,” Miller said. “We’re starting to put in other events.” In addition to events like music and trivia

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contests, he also lists food and drink specials for establishments that don’t offer entertainment. The website is growing, and Miller said he still has other establishments to contact about adding their events. The public has become increasingly aware of Augusta Nightlife. Miller tracks the website’s analytics and has found that the length of time visitors spend on the site is increasing. About a fourth of the visitors return within 30 days, and a significant percentage of those are returning within five days. The largest demographic for the site are those aged 25-37, with the next highest being 38-55 years old. Most use the site between 4 and 9 p.m.

der Hamilton and some change. Dog toppings include traditional mustard and ketchup varieties as well as chili, jalapenos and sauerkraut. The notso-traditional toppings of mac ‘n’ cheese and slaw seem to be a hit with customers. “I’ll try anything once!” offered a Sam’s fan. Our service was quick and friendly. We sampled several dogs and agreed the chili was tasty. The crinkled fries were too salty for our taste buds but I noticed our neighboring table had no trouble downing a couple of orders. Although our initial order was incorrectly filled, the food

deliverer righted the wrong within a few minutes. If you’re a dog fan, definitely give Sam’s a try. They hold the top title awarded from a local chili cook off for a tasty Hungarian wild mushroom soup and 10-pepper white bean and roasted chicken chili. Stated clearly on its website and window, Sam’s grants a 10 percent discount to military, law enforcement, fire/rescue/EMT workers and teachers. It’s a much appreciated gesture from one group of top dogs to another. Sam’s Hot Dog Stand is located at 337 South Belair Road in Augusta. www. samshotdogsga.com

North Augusta slates annual golf tournament on Nov. 9 The 13th Annual North Augusta Classic golf tournament has been scheduled for Monday, Nov. 9 at The River Club Golf Course. The North Augusta Classic was developed to serve charitable community improvement initiatives. About 130 community and corporate leaders participate in the event annually. A quarter of a million dollars has been raised over the past 12 years. The event is sponsored by the North Augusta 2000 Community Foundation,

North Augusta Chamber of Commerce and the City of North Augusta in cooperation with TTX Hamburg and The River Club Golf Course, Each team receives green fees, cart rental, tournament gift, lunch from Chick-Fil-A and 19th Hole celebration after the tournament with K& J Bar-B-Que. Each player is eligible to win prizes the day of the event. Sponsorships are available by contacting Mary Anne Bigger at 803-5100011.

Local artists on display at Augusta Airport Augusta Regional Airport is displaying the artwork of two local artists that highlight jazz music and abstract imagery. Local painters Laura Connelly and Ann DeLorge had their art selected by the airport’s Art Committee to be on display in the main terminal building through Dec. 31. These pieces of art will provide travelers an opportunity to see the outstanding artistry in the CSRA.

Connelly is from Washington, Ga., and currently teaches art classes at her family’s gallery, The Connelly Gallery. She also teaches guitar and songwriting. She considers her style to be abstract with bright bursts of color. DeLorge is from Augusta but is organically from New Orleans. She currently has several pieces displayed at Art on Broad. She describes her style as “Jazz Art” due to the intensity of the music she captures on canvas.


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48 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015


North Augusta woman’s story told in movie Captive recounts ordeal, renews chances to speak about her faith By Millie Huff Ashley Smith Robinson of North Augusta describes herself as a mom, a wife, a medical professional and a woman trying to make a difference in the world. But don’t call her a victim. “I was a victim in one specific circumstance, but God has shown me that I don’t continue to be a victim – He allowed me to survive for a purpose,” Robinson, 37, said. The ordeal Robinson’s life changed dramatically through extraordinary circumstances in March 2005, now memorialized in the movie Captive, which played in local theaters in

Ashley Smith Robinson gets a hug from David Oyelowo, who portrayed her captor in the movie, Captive. Photo contributed.

September. Robinson was held hostage for seven hours in her apartment in Duluth, Ga., by a convicted murderer, Brian Nichols, after his rampage that left four people dead and one seriously injured at the Fulton County courthouse. After stealing multiple vehicles, Nichols ambushed Robinson outside of her apartment and held her tied up and at gunpoint. While Atlanta police conducted a citywide manhunt for Nichols, Robinson found comfort in reading aloud to her captor passages from Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. The primary message of what they read together was that God has a purpose for every person regardless of their abilities or sin. She told Nichols that God

had a plan for his life and encouraged him to surrender and face justice. Although Nichols threatened Robinson’s life multiple times, she credits God for protecting her during her ordeal and for blessing her life since then. Robinson ultimately escaped by convincing Nichols to allow her to keep an appointment with her then 5-year-old daughter, Paige. Turning point Since that fateful day 10 years ago, Robinson has shared her story and her message on television and radio shows and as a speaker to groups large and small. Since the movie was released in September, her calendar is filling up with speaking engagements. Not long after her ordeal in 2005, Robinson wrote a New York Times best-selling book, Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero with writer Stacy Mattingly chronicling her story. She says that the book was part of her healing process. “The media attention following my ordeal was flattering but I kept asking the question of why God chose to save me, when Brian could have easily killed me,” Robinson said. “I realized that I was saved so that I could show the world how He had changed me.” Robinson’s life had been filled with personal tragedy prior to her encounter with Brian Nichols. Her teenage experimentation with drugs led to a debilitating methamphetamine addiction. She had married young to a man who also had drug addictions and she witnessed him being murdered during a drug deal. She willingly surrendered custody of their daughter, Paige, to her aunt’s care while she was battling her addiction. “The night I was held captive was a turning point in my life,” said Robinson. “It helped me understand that God has a purpose for my life, just like He does for everyone. God spoke to me in those hours and helped me turn away from the drugs that had been controlling my life.” Since 2005, Robinson has been approached several times about making a movie about that fateful night. No discussions came to fruition until producers approached her in 2013. Active role in the movie script Robinson took an active role in approving the script and making sure that the story brought glory to God and not just to the tragedy of the situation. She spent a week on set advising as scenes were shot. She

Ashley Smith Robinson, right, with Kate Mara, who portrayed her in the movie Captive. Photo courtesy Robinson’s Facebook

spent time prior to the shooting with actress Kate Mara, who portrays her in the movie. “The movie is pretty close to the truth, although some scenes were added so that the story flows,” said Robinson. “At first, I was opposed to adding anything that didn’t specifically happen but I soon realized that some scenes were needed to truly tell the story.” Near the end of the movie when Brian Nichols surrenders to police is an instance where creative liberties were taken. The movie shows Robinson using a bullhorn to coax Nichols out of the apartment before they see each other once he is captured. “In reality, I was hidden away in a safe area and couldn’t actually be seen by Brian,” said Robinson. “The only time I’ve seen Brian since his capture was at his trial and, even then, we didn’t speak or make eye contact.” Robinson has forgiven Nichols and feels that God gave him a second chance by sparing him the death penalty so that he can fulfill his purpose in prison. Platform for speaking Rick Warren, whose book provided such encouragement during her crisis, has become a friend and spiritual advisor to Robinson. She has been a guest speaker

at Saddleback Church, the eighth-largest church in the United States, where Warren is the founder and senior pastor. At the end of the movie Captive, producers added a clip of Robinson appearing as a guest on the Oprah show and her meeting Warren for the first time. “When I first started speaking publicly about my ordeal, I was encouraged to focus on my story as an inspiring brush with death,” she said. “Rick helped me realize that my purpose from this experience was to speak the name of Jesus and to bring glory to God through telling my story.” Now, Robinson’s life looks pretty typical of women her age: she’s happily remarried living in North Augusta where she and her husband are raising her daughter, Paige, now 16, her husband’s 14-year-old daughter, and their 4-year-old son. She works several days a week as a CT technician at an Augusta hospital. “When I was involved with drugs, my life was filled with lies and deceit. Now, I just want my life to reflect truth and light,” Robinson said. “I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I want to be obedient to God’s will in my life, wherever that takes me to share my story of survival.”

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Good Spirits Ben Casella

Belfast Bay Lobster Ale – I know, I know. He put it in the beer column because it had the word “lobster” in the name. Let me preemptively defend myself by saying it had been a while since I had simply had a red ale with no other seasonal aspects in the craft. I will be honest and say I enjoyed this one most out of the two included here. Maybe it was the lobster fritters. Maybe it was the lobster carbonara. Maybe it was the view from the restaurant. I think, however, it was the taste of this northern Maine craft brew (and by northern Maine, I mean darn near Canada). The hops in this red ale were more significant than I had envisioned. As well, the yeast was welcoming, yet not overwhelming (a to-be-expected quality in a 5.0% ABV red ale). I would definitely try this one again, given the chance.

The Maine Event

Trip to north means lobster and new brews to taste So, I had a speaking engagement in Maine last month. I must begin by saying that the people and scenery of that coastal region of New England are among the best I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. As the emcee was reading my biography, he said something along the lines of “now, you’re gonna know when you hear him speak that he’s not from Augusta, Maine”…I know! Right? Completely stole my ice-breaker of a joke! I digress, however. Laura came up with me, and we made a weekend out of it. Having some preparation of lobster with every single meal for a weekend almost made me feel bad about turning in my expense form, but, hey, when in Rome (or coastal Maine). In addition to lobster everything, we sampled some rather delicious local ales on the trip. I have chronicled them below, and the two I have chosen are ones which I would recommend if you find your way up to that neck of the woods any time soon. Shipyard Pumpkinhead – OK, I’ll preface this review with the notion that the two pumpkin ales I had before the trip to Maine were Pumking and Warlock (both high gravity bold brews and both from Southern Tier). So, I welcomed the drinkability of this toned-down ver-

Screening Room Samantha Taylor

You Gotta Laugh Comedy shows on Netflix help lighten the mood Comedy Bang Bang (2012 – present) Sometimes Netflix makes a suggestion that I don’t quite understand. Comedy Bang Bang was one of them. After watching five or six episodes in a row, I still can’t decide

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sion of a seasonal craft filled with the uber-sweet and significant savors. At 4.7% ABV, this clear golden-copper ale comes with an ease of sipping akin to an English bock beer. The pumpkin is evident, however,

as are notes of fall spice, toasted malt and a bare amount of yeast. These elements combine to yield perhaps the first pumpkin beer I’ve ever tried that actually quenched my thirst. If you try it, you’ll know what I mean.

if I like the show. Honestly, I can’t even tell you what it’s about, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Comedy Bang Bang is a half-hour series featuring Scott Aukerman as the host of a late-night talk show/sketch comedy. With a one-man band leader and a few recurring characters, the show goes back and forth between interviewing celebrity guests and going off on wild tangents. If you like random comedy, Comedy Bang Bang might be your new favorite series. The jokes are strange and sometimes vulgar, but you most certainly won’t be bored. It’s an adult version of Pee Wee’s Playhouse and guaranteed to keep you guessing. Grace and Frankie (2015 – present) Grace and Frankie is a Netflix original series featuring a surprisingly hilarious plot and some of Hollywood’s top actors. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play Grace and Frankie, two women who have just found out their hus-

bands have been a little more than business partners for the last 20 years. Faced with the knowledge that their husbands, played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson, have been unfaithful to them, Grace and Frankie are forced to coexist, even though they are complete opposites. Grace is prim and proper, always concerned about her appearance and status. Frankie, on the other hand, is an original hippy and spends her days smoking pot, teaching former criminals to paint and making products for intimate use out of yams. Although the relationship between Grace and Frankie is more than entertaining, viewers have much more to look forward to. There’s Frankie’s adopted sons, Nwadubike and Coyote, struggling to maintain a relationship with both of their parents, all while she fights to maintain sobriety. There’s Grace’s daughters, Briana and Mallory, one trying to run the family

Ben and Laura enjoyed their weekend in Maine very much. Of note, a small upper New England squirrel maintained extended eye contact with Ben while on a hike. Did he mention there was beer involved?

beauty business and the other trying to end a love triangle with Coyote. Of course, there’s also the relationship between Sol and Robert, the philandering husbands who lied to their wives for 20 years about their “business” affiliation. While it’s true there are people who may refuse to watch this show simply because they do not agree with the lifestyle choices of some of the characters, I can still recommend it. Grace and Frankie is well-written, funny, and, most importantly, tasteful. The show doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, rather, it helps us understand how people deal with the surprise blows life sometimes deals us. Samantha Taylor “Sam the Movie Chick” is on a mission to find the best movies and TV shows for you to stream from Netflix. She loves good flicks, good food and good friends. Her eclectic tastes are sure to give readers a wide range of viewing choices.


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Music Insider Jonathan Karow

Drum Roll

Drums are an international instrument with many names I have had a passion for drums since I was a child and saw a praise band at church. It was a rare opportunity to have a band or music other than organ, piano, choir and the occasional acoustic guitarist playing the Amy Grant version of Kumbaya My Lord. I will never forget the drummer who changed my life. I didn’t know what to call his style but it made little Jonathan jump out of the pew. Later I would learn that the technique known as soul, funk or groove was influenced by James Brown’s band. Drum sets are of international origins. The snare drum has had various names over the centuries. In Scotland and Ireland it is still referred to as a pipe drum because it commonly accompanies bagpipe players. In Germany the snare drum has been referred to as the war drum since 18th Century. The English referred to it as a snare or trap drum. Tom-toms are of Native American origins. The bass drum dates back centuries of Asian countries. Cymbals originated in Turkey and China. The hi-hat cymbals began as the sock-hat for American talk-radio sound effects.

Humor Nora Blithe

Danger Zone

Co-workers conspire to fill others with sweet poison New research suggests it’s unhealthy for humans to work from October to December. A recent study released by the Blithe Institute of Things I See With My Own Eyeballs says that coworkers are most likely to try to kill you during the last three months of the year.

52 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

When all percussion instruments are put in close proximity, it is called a trap set, short for contraption. A few years ago I invited drummer Terry Bozzio, who is a huge James Brown fan, to Augusta. We discussed how drum tuning is an art in itself. Terry is so particular about his drum tone, he requested that the air-conditioner be turned off over his drum set so that the drums would not contract or expand. Terry and I agreed that we mutually have been approaching drum tuning in a similar manner over the years. This tuning measure is just a good starting point and the rest is up to your ear because musical instruments are your voice, per se. Snare: Start finger-tight batter and resonate sides. Tighten the tension rods top and bottom in a crisscross manner similar to installing the lug nuts on a wheel. Don’t be afraid to really tighten the thin yet durable Mylar bottom snare side head. Tap the drum lightly with a drum stick while always tightening evenly. Don’t question how many turns you tighten the key. Your hand will not lie to you about the torque. If it feels the same all around, then it is even. I like to tighten both sides of a snare drum very tight, then back off a bit. Adjust the snare wires until they tickle the bottom head with the lightest touch of a drum stick. Toms and bass drums use the same technique, starting finger-tight all around preferably with the drums removed from the kit. Just get the wrinkles out of both tom heads evenly

and they should produce the organic tone the drum was intended. A pillow or muffling device in a bass drum touching the inner batter and resonate heads are optional to produce a more “punchy” sound versus a “booming” marching bass drum tone.

Jonathan Karow is the owner/founder of Rock Bottom Music in Augusta and an active musician. He has handled artist relations and concert promotions for internationally recognized musicians for more than two decades. He is also a consultant and product development designer for famous brand instrument manufacturers.

Beginning mid-October, your office break room will slowly fill with poison that will increase throughout the month and won’t dissipate until January. It will begin subtly, with small, brightly colored sugary bits tossed casually on the break table; and will escalate to masses of teeth-rotting, diabetes-inducing, rear-end-expanding, pumpkin-loads of Halloween candy that your coworkers pray you’ll eat before they do. Your bathroom scale will tremble with fear. And there’s two more months of junk food to come. November brings a month of baked goods. The cookies! The pies! The cakes! The interoffice memo will sweet-

ly entice you to visit the break room to sample your share of the “goodies.” Pumpkin-spiced lattes topped with whipped cream drenched in caramel glaze will cement the deal! Bob from accounting makes a daily coffee run so you never have to be without. The sugar poison mingles with caffeine and courses freely through your veins. By Turkey Day, your waistline is equipped to defy your most expansive pair of sweat pants! The only perspiration that will happen in these babies is when you spend 10 minutes trying to wriggle off the couch. If you burn a few calories snagging the perfect toaster on Black Friday, don’t sweat it! You’ll pack the pounds back on during Cyber Monday as you

eat your leftover stuffing and your coworker’s leftover apple pie. And December. December is the most fatal month of them all! It’s the time of year your coworker who hasn’t used an oven since 1982 decides to bake for the whole staff. The few of you who haven’t succumbed to the poisoning thus far are doomed. Here come more cookies! Here come more pies! Here come more cakes! There’s peppermint bark, candy canes and chocolate Santas. The fat guy himself will spy you and snigger. Neither of you are fitting down the chimney this year! So prepare yourself. It’s a deadly eating game, and only the strongest will still fit in their clothes come January! Nora Blithe is an Augusta native, an entrepreneur and a syndicated humor columnist. She lives in Greenville, S.C., with her husband, Brian, and their pets. Read her syndicated humor column Life Face First in Verge, or find her online at doorinface.com.


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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Healthy Eating Melissa Brown

Shopping Success

Start with a plan, stock up and make healthy choices Many of us are interested in eating healthy, but are unsure where to start. We stroll the aisles of the grocery store with big eyes and good intentions, but end up making hasty choices to satisfy our growling stomachs.

Sound familiar? Allow me to recommend some excellent tips to avoid poor dinner decisions. I recommend making a game plan for the week. Create a list and ask yourself a few questions. What do you want to cook? Can ingredients be used for multiple meals? How much time do you have for cooking? Answer these questions and plan accordingly. Prepare for success Start with fresh vegetables. Shop and then wash, chop and store fresh veggies once or twice a week to minimize cooking time on other days. When in doubt, freeze those veggies for later meal building. Bean there, done that Once a week, you should prepare a big batch of beans and lentils for simple healthy meal options. Slow Saves Time Do you have a slow cooker? A slow cooker always simplifies the meal-making process. It allows you to prepare healthy delicious meals while you’re at

work or even while you’re sleeping. Make Grains Galore Cooking with whole grains is an essential piece of eating a diet based in whole foods. They’re also quite simple to cook! Did you know that you can cook extra whole grains and store portions in your freezer for up to a month? This is great for when you are in a pinch and need a healthy meal in a hurry. Pull out the stored grains and you are ready to cook! Transform Leftovers Make your leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch! Take your cooked ingredients and make them part of a whole grain wrap or burrito. Give chili new life by adding it to a baked potato. No Prep Necessary To avoid prep work, shop the frozen aisle for greens, grains, vegetables and fruits. That way when you go to make your meal your ingredients are ready to go. Stock up on Shortcut Staples Buy in bulk! Stock up on shortcut

staples, such as whole wheat pasta and cans or cartons of no-salt-added lentils, beans, vegetable broth and tomatoes. You will always be ready for quick meals like Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomatoes and Veggies. Get “Fast” Food and Feel Great About It! If you need a break from cooking but still need healthy options, Whole Foods Market has your best healthy eating interests in mind. Look for the Health Starts Here logo at our salad bar, hot bar, self-serve cases and full-serve cases — you’ll be sure to find convenient options. Prepare for success and commit to change…positive results will follow. You can do it! Melissa Brown is Marketing Team Leader for Whole Foods Market in Augusta. She has more than five years of marketing experience in Augusta and the surrounding areas. If you can’t find her in the store you will find her out and about spreading the word about Whole Foods.

With summer over, Georgians still have big travel plans The busy summer travel season is over, but Americans are not putting their luggage away just yet. Three -quarters (75 percent) of Georgians are planning an overnight vacation this Fall, according to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey. “Autumn is a popular time to take a well deserved vacation,” said Garrett Townsend, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “It can also be a more affordable time to travel as prices tend to be lower, because students are back in school.” Peak Season Travel (Mar-Aug/Nov-Dec) vs. Off-Season Travel (Sept-Oct/Jan-Feb) Prefer off-season travel – 36 percent Prefer peak season travel – 16 percent No preference – 48 percent Slightly more than one-third of consumers polled (36 percent) say they prefer offseason travel. Nearly Forty-percent are very likely to take an off-season vacation in the next 6 months. Half of travelers surveyed (49 percent) plan to take a vacation October-December. Most travel plans (85 percent) keep Georgians within the United States, with the common budget (29 percent) being $501$1,000. Thirty-one percent of travelers will fly, while most (64 percent) will take advantage of low gas prices and drive. Those traveling in the next three months will likely find the cheapest gas prices for this time of year since 2004. “Driving may be the most cost-effective option for travelers,” Townsend said. “Low oil prices have pushed pump prices down, and gasoline could get another 1020 cents cheaper as supplies rise and demand dips.”

54 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

Top 7 things Georgia travelers consider when deciding whether to fly: Cost of airfare – (67 percent) Trip distance / length – (69 percent) Amount of luggage – (33 percent) Gas prices – (31 percent) Number of travelers – (31 percent) Traveling with pets – (14 percent) Afraid of flying – (8 percent) When considering a flight, three out of five Georgian travelers say they are more likely to drive now that gasoline is cheaper than last year. However, the cost of gas is not the most important factor in travelers’ decision to take a flight. When given the choice of two continents Georgians want to travel the most, the selections were made in the following order: Europe – (65 percent) North America – (52 percent) Australia – (23 percent) Asia – (14 percent) South America – (17 percent) Africa – (10 percent) Antarctica – (3 percent) “Europe remains a top destination, because travelers can experience something new every time they visit,” Townsend said. “Popular cities like Rome and Paris are absolutely beautiful in the autumn months as they are less crowded and temperatures turn cooler. Return travelers and first timers can get expert advice from travel agents like the ones at AAA, who provide first-hand knowledge that will help Georgians travel like a tourist or a local.”

5-year-old Skyla Clark of Augusta points to the box she wants to fill and send as part of the Operation Christmas Child kickoff at in Evans on Oct. 10. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Operation Christmas Child kicks off Operation Christmas Child is often considered a project for families with kids, but Gary Lawhead said that each year 10 to 15 businesses in the Augusta area commit to filling the wrapped shoe boxes as a community service project. Lawhead, former coordinator for the Augusta area’s Operation Christmas Child, was at the Evans Chick-fil-A on Saturday for the local launch of the annual campaign. The national project is designed to fill shoeboxes with simple gifts for children in less fortunate parts of the world. It is both a gift and an evangelistic tool. Many churches in the area participate. Warren Baptist Church on Washington Road is the overall coordinator. Filled boxes

will be collected there Nov. 16-22. Last year the Augusta area collected 16,697 shoe boxes, 4,000 more than the previous year. Lawhead expects the total to increase by another 4,000 this year. That’s four to five semi-trailers full of boxes. “Basically one family does one or two boxes,” he said. “That’s how it grows – each year more families do one or two.” The annual event takes a significant amount of manpower. During collection week, 15-20 volunteers per day will help with collecting and organizing the boxes. They are shipped to Atlanta, and Lawhead said they will take several busloads of volunteers there later to help with readying the boxes for international shipment.


Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015 Buzz on Biz

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56 Buzz on Biz Oct. 15-Nov. 18, 2015

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