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Oct. 26-Nov. 30, 2017 • The CSRA’s monthly business Magazine

CSRA Grocers Improve Shopper Experience Special Report • Pages 24-25

Businesses Making Connections

Vendors were kept busy explaining their products and services at the 2nd Annual B2B Expo on Oct. 19, held at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Photo by Gary Kauffman

B2B Expo Creates Networking, Education Experience for CSRA Businesses BY GARY KAUFFMAN

Michelle Grant of Kamo Manufacturing couldn’t wait until the end of 2nd Annual Business to Business Expo to let her boss know about it. “I texted the owner earlier and said, ‘This is a great show. We definitely need to do it again next year,’” Grant said. Kamo, a local janitorial equipment supply company, was one of more than 50 vendors who had a booth at the B2B Expo held on Oct. 19. And many, like Kamo, found the experience worthwhile. Interest in the B2B Expo, which had a solid launch in 2016, grew so much that

See more B2B Expo coverage on pages 28 & 50! the venue had to be moved to the more spacious Savannah Rapids Pavilion this year – and squeezed that location to its capacity. The B2B Expo is a unique event that features booths of businesses that sell all or a majority of their products and services to other businesses, but also features a lineup of top-line local speakers who address topics of interest to business owners and managers. “I was really impressed with the quality

of the speakers and the number of vendors,” said Jeff Asselin of Loop Recruiting, who also found it helpful as a networking tool. “I’ve been in town forever and I still met a handful of new people today.” That is exactly what the B2B Expo was designed to do, according to Jessica Jones of Buzz on Biz, who coordinated the event. “It’s about expanding your circle and meeting people,” she said. “We had a lot

of different businesses from all over the CSRA and the goal was to have all of those business owners get to know each other.” The idea of the B2B Expo was scratched out on the back of an envelope in a meeting several years ago between Buzz on Biz publisher Neil Gordon and Chad Trollinger of WelcomeMat. “We wanted to create an event where business owners could get away from the business for a day and not only meet other businesses, but learn how to run their See EXPO on Page 2

Expo Continued from Page 1

Representatives from Kamo Manufacturing explain how they help local businesses with their janitorial needs. Photo by Melissa Gordon

business better,” Gordon said. “It is about helping each other and helping people be more efficient and effective in their business.” For some companies with a long presence in the CSRA, like Kamo, the event helped remind people about the power of buying local. “Sometimes the new businesses only know about the big guys,” Grant said. “They don’t realize how much a local company can do for you. We can train all the employees on the chemicals and equipment. The big companies are not going to send someone out to do that at no charge.” For others, the expo provided the opportunity to introduce a new product, like Workful, an employee management platform from the owners of TaxSlayer. The program, designed for businesses with five to 20 employees, launched the day of the show. “This event was our first attempt to get the word out,” said Dennis O’Keefe, who said the next introduction would be at an event in Las Vegas. “This was a very good event for us. We had a lot of good conversations. What we’re attempting to do with this product is resonating with people.” And for some, the B2B Expo allowed people to see that a service they may not have considered could be useful to their business, like a private investigator. Many curious attendees stopped by the booth of Chilton Gibbs Investigations. “It was more curiosity than anything,” said Alex Chilton. “The biggest thing was letting them know the level of work we can actually do for a small businesses.

Small businesses get sued all the time.” Although a business transaction or a business relationship directly from the day of the expo is welcome, most realize that the results will come later. “You never know until a month or so later,” said Robert Amos of Cartridge World. “People’s buying cycle could be two or three months out.” Jones was impressed with the effort businesses put into their booths. “Everyone was really prepared for the event,” she said. She also praised the volunteers who helped coordinate the event. The volunteers were comprised of members of the Nspired networking group. Attendees also had the chance to sample some offerings from several local food establishments. Belair Donuts provided morning pastries, and lunch came from Pot Smoker BBQ, Chicken Salad Chick and Twisted Burrito. Providing food also helped those restaurants advertise the fact that they cater for business events. Like Kamo, many vendors are already looking forward to the 2018 B2B Expo. “I look forward to it hopefully being even bigger next year,” said Matt Smart of Smart Safes. “We take a lot away from this that helps us as we’re growing as a community.” In his opening remarks, Chad Trollinger of WelcomeMat and one of the event’s co-founders, voiced his longrange vision for the event. “It’s something we hope grows and grows,” he said. “We’re in our second year. Maybe in 18 years we can say it’s our 20th year. It can be something that we can pass on to future generations.”

2 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

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Take Care Of Your Physical AND Fiscal Health BY NEIL GORDON

There were some defining moments I remember from the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 11 at University Hospital. As a business guy, I was worried that this edition of Buzz on Biz and our B2B Expo would go on without me – and that my trip to Alaska in late October to assess Morris’ Business Journal would be in danger. I had spoken with someone about the possibilities after the results were given. I knew recovery time would be four hours if I was not in the danger zone – but days, weeks or months if I got a bad result. Another memory is of my photographer wife, Melissa, taking photos of me after nurses put in my IV and I was on my way. I was worried for her, because she was just 12 days out from surgeries herself. We would have to take care of each other and our 4-year-old with the help of others. The nurses were wonderful (though I could have done without the surgical site prep)! The Cardiac Cath Lab was as cold as any meat locker. At some point, I went “night-night” once they put a sedative in my IV. Dr. Faiz Rehman, a really smart and respected cardiologist was able to look at X-ray images with the help of dye injected through the cardiac catheter. After the procedure, I awoke to his

nicely-accented voice. “Recovery time will be four hours,” he said. I quickly inquired. “Doc, no stent?” He said there would be no stent, but he wanted to talk with me once I was more awake. My wife told me later she was concerned I would have to have by-pass surgery. Dr. Rehman explained that 100 percent of the LAD artery (known as the widow maker for its deadly results) was blocked, but my own cardio vascular system created “collaterals,” which Dr. Rehman said supplied blood to the affected side of my heart. Other vessels and arteries were normal but I do have two 40 percent arterial blockages on my right

Features Growing in North Augusta........................... 4 Chamber’s Growthfest shows how North Augusta has created an atmosphere for business growth. Buzz Bits.................................................. 6, 62 Openings, Closings................................. 7, 63 Fact or Fiction............................................... 8 Banker Dagan Sharpe’s new novel deals with issues many in the business world face.

Businessperson of the Month.................... 22 Chad Trollinger’s year of unemployment led to a fresh business start. A New Way of Eating............................. 24, 25 A change in people’s eating and shopping habits has local grocery stores making changes.

Upcoming Events.................................. 14, 15

B2B Expo Education................................... 28 The speakers at the 2nd Annual B2B Expo gave business owners and manager plenty to think about.

The Physics of Bread................................... 21 A German physicist’s love for baking bread has led to a downtown bakery in the near future.

On With the Show....................................... 56 After three decades, the Miller Theater has come back to life.

Columnists Tim Dalton: Do Your Due Diligence, but Heed Your Gut..........................10 Liz Klebba: How You Dress for Work Speaks Volumes...............................12 Ed Enoch: Private Employers Have More Rights to Monitor Workers.. 13 Mark Alison: Hats Off to Entrepreneurs..........................................................16 Christine Hall: Breach May Necessitate Freezing Credit Reports..........18 Danielle Harris: 4 Ways to Manage a Crisis – Before it Happens............20 Dagan Sharpe: It’s Time to Drop Out of the Rat Race................................20 Kurt Mueller: Executive Benefit Plans Help Retain Top Talent................42 Gary Kauffman: Christians Can Offset a Culture Gone Wild....................48 Missie Usry: GMC Awards of First-Ever Bachelor Degree.........................49

Photo by Melissa Gordon

coronary artery. I have changed my diet, will add an exercise regimen and faithfully take medicines to help with cholesterol, blood pressure and my heart. My weight has been as high as 245 and I am now in the 230s with a goal of 200. I’ve replaced sweet drinks with water. It really helps and I’m sampling a water additive that adds ketone levels in the blood. I may write more in the future as our health does affect our performance at work. Thanks to the 300-plus friends and colleagues who took the time on Facebook, phone and text to wish me well. My friend and client, Dagan Sharpe of Queensborough National Bank & Trust,

Russell Head: Auditing Dependents on Health Plan Could Save Money.........................................................................................................................52 Witt Wells: New Stores Could Make Grocery Shopping Fun for Millennials.................................................................................................................53 Susan O’Keefe: Augustino’s Offers Elegance, Great Food........................54 Tony Creighton: Algae Growth is Unattractive and Can Lead to Roof Damage...........................................................................................................57 Samantha Barksdale: Netflix Shows Inside the Lives of First Responders...............................................................................................................58 Ben Casella: Fall Brings Out New Rum-Tinged Pumking Ale..................60

writes a regular fiscal column in this publication and can add “author” to his name. His book, Highways End, was written in a time of transition in his life. Our editor, Gary Kauffman shares Sharpe’s journey of gaining a new perspective on priorities that transformed his novel. Lastly, the financial health of our businesses was never more on display than at our B2B Conference and Expo on Oct. 19. Please read our special wrap-up story on the front page, plus additional coverage on pages 28 and 50 to see what our speakers and vendor/advertisers had to say. The evolution of our local grocery store industry caught the attention of our writer, Witt Wells. Look at his comprehensive review of that industry on page 24 and 25. Here’s to your health.

Neil Gordon is the founder and publisher of Buzz on Biz, which includes a daily TV segment on News 12 This Morning at 6:25 a.m., a daily radio show from noon to 1 p.m. on 1630 AM, a weekly e-newsletter and Reach him at 706.589.6727 or

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 $49 (includes sales tax) to cover postage to the address below. Publisher Neil R. Gordon Editor in Chief Gary Kauffman Multimedia Journalist Witt Wells, Layout Riverfront Design Center Ad Building E35 Media Photography Witt Wells, Gary Kauffman, Melissa Gordon Sales Manager Neil Gordon,, 706-589-6727 Sales and PR Jessica Jones,, 762-218-0239 Distribution Kenneth Brown, Jessica Jones Opinions expressed by the writers herein are their own and their respective institutions. Neither Morris Publishing Group nor its agents or employees take any responsibility for the accuracy of submitted information, which is presented for informational purposes only. Like us on Facebook @ Follow us on Twitter @BuzzonBiz 604 Government Center Way, Evans, GA 30809

October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Signal of growth Chamber’s Growthfest Highlights North Augusta’s Businesses BY WITT WELLS

Businesspeople and interested visitors who attended the annual business exposition in North Augusta, this year called “Growthfest,”in mid-October found a wide variety of booths and a firm signal that business in South Carolina’s River Front is thriving. Dozens of vendors spanned the top floor of North Augusta’s Municipal Building, with businesses ranging from the Christian radio to virtual reality. As the day went on, the benefits that North Augusta businesses gained from their experiences became increasingly clear, as did the excitement that locals voiced about their own community. Here are three things we learned at Growthfest this year. The North Augusta Chamber of Commerce is a huge, often untapped resource for local businesses Of the hundreds of mostly small businesses that partner with NACC, around 90 percent of them are made up of 10 people or less, according to North Augusta Chamber of Commerce President Terra Carroll. Often, that means they probably don’t have a substantial website, or any website for that matter. NACC comes alongside these companies and assists them in building a strong online presence. So far, it’s been working. “I talked to a business whose chamber profile came up before their website on Google,” Carroll said. “That spoke volumes about the exposure they’re getting.” Still there’s nothing like being in the same room as the businesspeople with whom you share a community. The NACC’s business exposition has been going on for more than 20 years. Vendors come and go, but one constant is the value of face-to-face interaction. Ann Fulcher, a salesperson at downtown Augusta-based Phoenix Printing,

April Sather and Jill Kauffman of 88.3 WAFJ radio station talk with a visitor to the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s Growthfest on Oct. 17. Photo by Witt Wells

said that within an hour of the Growthfest’s commencement, she had already found a new client and been introduced to several other potential clients. “Phoenix really promotes us getting out into the community,” Fulcher said. “Networking—it’s huge.” Business in the region is booming In the tight-knit business world of North Augusta, mutual support is integral to the fabric of the community, both in North Augusta and beyond. That’s why Cathy Metts is back at the expo for a third year as an independent contractor with Keller Williams Realty. “It’s fantastic,” Metts said. It’s not just Growthfest that has Metts feeling good. As more people have moved to North Augusta over the last few years, Metts has seen her business double yearover-year for seven consecutive years. She pointed to Sweetwater Landing, a residential subdivision off Exit 5, as a prime example of the local real estate boom. Since Keller Williams started selling the homes in May, 18 homes in the

subdivision have been sold, with four more spec homes being built. Over the last two years, Metts said 60 trailside homes in the area have been built. For the Augusta Regional Airport, which also had a presence at Growthfest, better business has led to a vastly improved perception among locals. “When I started, there were a lot of misconceptions about the airport,” said Diane Johnston, the airport’s director of marketing and business management. That was partly due to the fact that it was built in 1941 as a Contract Pilot School for the Army Air Corps. From the time Bush Field (the airport’s name until 2000) was transferred to the City of Augusta in 1950 until 2008, when the terminals were destroyed for a rebuild, Johnston said the airport’s gradual construction was piecemeal, resulting in a confusing layout. Add to that expensive airline rates, and the airport became lessthan-desirable for departures. But at Growthfest, visitors sharing

Terra Carroll named chamber exec of the year By Witt Wells

Just a few days before the Growthfest business expo, the local spotlight shone of North Augusta Chamber of Commerce President Terra Carroll. Carroll was awarded South Carolina Chamber Executive of the Year, which might sound strange if one considers the relatively small

size of the North Augusta Chamber compared to other, larger chambers in the state’s bigger cities. “It was a little surprising to be recognized in front of my executive peers,” Carroll said. “It gives us a spotlight, being one of the smaller chambers. We work hard every day. It felt good.” The award was presented by the

4 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. It recognizes long-term executives who have successfully led and built their chambers. It is based on demonstration of excellence in areas of chamber leadership, organizational management, service to the profession, community reputation and involvement and personal attributes.

positive feedback about their experiences reflect a strong tailwind following the airport’s facelift. According to Johnston, fares for some destinations have dropped by as much as $300-$400, and the Augusta Regional Airport has roughly doubled its annual number of passengers since 2008. That’s almost sure to continue as local cyber growth increases the frequency of flights to and from Washington D.C. and the surrounding area. Now if they could just nail down a direct flight to the nation’s capital. “We would love to see that destination again,” Johnston said. There’s always a place for innovators Angel Andino has dreamed of opening his own entertainment facility for years. He’s not quite there yet, but he was certainly turning heads at Growthfest, occasionally piquing the interest of a nearby networker just enough to draw the brave soul into a virtual reality battle with an army of evil robots in a universe far away. For now, Andino is bringing the fun of Dino’s Arcade straight to CSRA residents’ homes (or wherever they want him to go), a sort of VR-on-wheels model he says he hasn’t seen, even in other cities. The only environment Andino requires is empty space. He charges $100 per hour for a minimum of two hours. “The first time I tried this, I woke up and started playing it in the morning, and when I took off the headset it was dark,” he said. Andino has only worked a few events like Growthfest before, but once he dedicates himself his one-man VR show full time, he’ll probably be seen regularly at such venues. He hopes to bring the thrill of VR to all ages, too. “There’s such a wide variety of experiences you can have,” Andino said. “I tell people the age range is 18-80.”





BREAKFAST MEETINGS LUNCH ‘N LEARN DINNERS/SPECIAL EVENTS 544 N. Belair Road Evans, Ga 706.228.3018 October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


buzz bits Construction of Housing Complexes Starts in North Augusta

Town homes and apartments are starting to take shape around the GreenJackets’ new stadium. It’s a new stage in the project that until recently had been fully focused on the stadium itself. The new housing complexes, built to attract a diverse array of people looking to live in an up-and-coming part of town, form the outer portion of what will soon be a full entertainment and residential district. City officials are trying to get condos up as soon as possible, before winter hits. The new Crowne Plaza Hotel, which will be the premiere accommodation venue of Riverside Village, will be completed around the end of next year. As for the town homes, they’ll be almost completely finished by the time the GreenJackets play their first game in April.

EDTS Expanding to Savannah

Augusta-based IT company EDTS announced plans to expand operations to the Savannah metropolitan area, along with its cybersecurity affiliate, EDTS Cyber, LLC. The Savannah metropolitan area is experiencing steady economic and employment growth, particularly in the hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, shipping and logistics, and busi-

EDTS was recently recognized as one of the top 100 managed security providers in the United States.

Walmart Donation Helps Feed Hungry Kids Cyber Conference Explores Next Steps for CSRA

The first-annual Invest Augusta Cyber Conference took place at the Augusta Legends Club on Sept. 28, as a sold-out crowd of more than 200 business and cyber leaders discussed what’s best and what’s next for Augusta’s growing cyber, tech and business sectors. What Augusta TechNet has become for the global cybersecurity industry, Invest Augusta wants to be for the expanding cyber world in the CSRA. In an interview in August, the conference’s founder, Tony Lever, said he envisions an expanding web of cyber innovators and leaders in Augusta, a need he said will only grow as the city becomes an increasingly important cyber hub in the United States. “Cybersecurity never really made it to the boardroom level until recently,” Lever said. “Bringing the business skills and the technical skills together – this is how you form small businesses.”  The conference culminated with six start-up companies making a pitch to angel investors and a VIP party at the Pinnacle Club. Former Augusta mayor and current radio host Deke Copenhaver was given the first-ever cyber leadership award for making city-wide progress for cyber business, cyber education and economic development. Twelve speakers – among them Cape Augusta founder James Ainslie, EDTS CEO Charles Johnson and Unisys Industry Director Jack Koons – shared information on cybertechnology, cybersecurity, military planning, cyber investment, global security, securing venture capital, launching cyber-related businesses and industry challenges.

ness services sectors. “Savannah’s strengths are a mirror of our own,” Charles Johnson, founder and CEO of EDTS and EDTS Cyber, said. “Manufacturers and logistics companies must uphold high operational capacity while protecting intellectual property and their integrated IT systems. Our team of highly certified and skilled professionals are experienced in addressing these needs.”

6 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

EDTS’ new Savannah office will be located at 100 Bull St., Suite 200. EDTS also has offices in Asheville, N.C., Greenville, S.C., and Columbia, S.C. EDTS and EDTS Cyber serve diverse clients of all sizes across healthcare, manufacturing, professional services and banking industries, as well as local and municipal governments.

The Golden Harvest Food Bank of Augusta received a $144,000 grant from Walmart to support local initiatives that feed local elementary school students who need additional food when they are away from school. The funds will provide nutritious food for schoolchildren who may go hungry on the weekends. Students will take home food each Friday. “Walmart’s grants are at work in our community right now,” said Travis McNeal, executive director of the Golden Harvest Food Bank. “The grants help us provide nutritious weekend meals to elementary students through our BackPack Program, so they are ready to learn and grow to their full potential every Monday morning.” The $144,000 grant will provide 28,800 BackPack Meal packs, enough meals to feed 800 schoolchildren every weekend for an entire school year.

Luxury Apartments Coming to Augusta

A new riverside apartment complex is in the process of pre-leasing luxury apartments that a spokesperson for the managing company says are raising the bar for luxury living in Augusta. Residence at Riverwatch, located off River Watch Parkway behind GTC Riverwatch Cinemas, is expected to be completed and ready to accommodate renters in February. Amenities will include direct access to the Augusta Continued on Page 62

openings, closings and moves OPENINGS Papa John’s

Papa John’s has opened a new location in the CSRA, this time in Evans. The pizza chain officially opened in Riverwood Towne Center at the end of September. The new location is the chain’s fifth in the CSRA and is located at 3118 William Few Pkwy. The Riverwood Papa John’s is open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday.

Augusta Takeout Express Augusta Takeout Express is officially in service in the CSRA. Currently, ATE delivers Firehouse Subs (six locations), McAlister’s Deli, Woody’s BBQ, Domo Japanese Grill, Shishkebab and Taqueria El Rey. ATE delivers to locations in Richmond County, Columbia County, and parts of North Augusta. The delivery fee is $4.99. ATE founder Heather White used to deliver for a similar service in Statesboro, but decided to start her own service when she saw a need in the CSRA. Food delivery service GrubHub has had a presence in the Augusta area, but the entry of a National Hills address into their website at 1:15 p.m. resulted in a message that only one available restaurant is open. White plans to continue to grow her company’s selection of restaurants. For now, you can order your favorite items from those six restaurants at, or call (706) 413-8005. Whiskey Alley The success of Aiken’s Alley Taproom has led owner Norman Dunagan and operating partner Alexandrea Kneece to open a similar operation just across the street. This time, it’s a whiskey bar that the pair hopes will draw even more visitors to the heart of Aiken. Dunagan said Whiskey Alley could open by the end of October. “You see people sitting outside, and we wanted to continue building that community and building the culture of the heart of Aiken,” Kneece said in an interview with the City of Aiken Busi-

METRo DINER IS NOW OPEN Metro Diner, which has become a staple eatery in numerous southeastern cities including Birmingham, Jacksonville and Savannah, opened its first Augusta location on Oct. 24. The 4,647-square-foot restaurant is located at 2820 Washington Road. “We always love to get acclimated to the local community,” said Mariah Kulkin, a PR representative for Metro Diner. Metro Diner features favorites like fried chicken and waffles, Charleston shrimp and grits, and meatloaf, which was highlighted on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. “We want to show the best Metro Diner has to offer,” Kulkin said. ness Connect and New Business Spotlight. Dunagan and Kneece plan to open the Whiskey Alley later this month. With a full range of beverages, the bar will specialize in craft whiskeys and bourbons, with a tapas menu to boot. “It’s our belief that all Aiken needs to do is work on its assets, and the Alley is one of the largest that we have,” Dunagan said. Alley Taproom has been open since spring in The Alley in Aiken, where it has become an area favorite. Dunagan thinks Whiskey Alley will be one more step forward in making downtown Aiken a complete destination.

Discount Tire A new Discount Tire will be built on an open lot at 4540 Washington Road in Evans, next to Bojangles. The 10,214-square-foot facility is slated to be finished in early 2018. Discount Tire currently has a location at 3869 Washington Road, as well as a store in Aiken. The retailer offers affordable tires that are in stock. The new Discount Tire will be located down the road from Christian Brothers Automotive, which offers full-service auto repairs.

Taco Bell A new Taco Bell may be coming to Whiskey Road in Aiken soon. According to a report from the Aiken Standard, Aiken City Council will vote on a proposal to build the restaurant on the property at 2205 Whiskey Road, which the city council could annex into the city. The Taco Bell would be located at the current StrikeHouse Bowl site. The new Taco Bell would be 1,892 square feet and have new access points on Whiskey and Dougherty roads.

the restaurant business is very demanding, so I have decided to retire so I can spend more time with my family. We all made many friends, had great times and have wonderful memories to look back on. Thank you for all of your support over the years.” The Fiskes have owned Somewhere in Augusta since 2010.

CLOSINGS Somewhere in Augusta

The owners of local sports bar Somewhere in Augusta had made plans to open somewhere else. That isn’t the case anymore. The bar, considered by locals to be one of the best in Augusta, has permanently closed, according to a Facebook post by one of the owners on Sunday. Owners John and Cindy Fiske had reportedly planned to re-open the bar elsewhere after leaving their Washington Road location, which is now occupied by the soon-to-open Metro Diner. But on Sunday, Cindy announced on Somewhere in Augusta’s Facebook page that the restaurant and bar would be closing for good, and that the Fiskes would be spending more time with their family. The Facebook post read: “To all of SIA’s loyal fans and customers: Over the past 9 months I have been able to take a step back and enjoy family time that has been missing the last 7 years. I realized I have missed out on a lot as

Cotton Patch Hurricane Irma’s impact on the Cotton Patch Jazz and Blues Café in downtown Augusta may have forced it to close. The last event listed on the restaurant’s Facebook page was for Sept. 10, the day before the hurricane struck the Southeast. But as of Oct. 17, a voicemail message tells callers, “Thank you for calling the Cotton Patch Jazz and Blues Café. Unfortunately we are closed due to some restrictions from Hurricane Irma. We will let you know at our earliest as we move forward with the process. Have a great day. Eat, drink and be happy.” Although that sounds as if it may be a temporary closing, it has been Continued on Page 63

October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Fact or Fiction?

Banker’s Change of Focus in Life Leads to Published Novel BY GARY KAUFFMAN

Dagan Sharpe’s first novel is a work of fiction, but it deals with issues that are all too real for many business people. Sharpe knows – he’s dealt with them himself. The novel, Highways End, was published in September by Bended Bow. It took 15 years for Sharpe, director of wealth services & region manager for Queensborough National Bank & Trust, to finish his novel. It’s not that he’s a slow writer; he just needed to get his life and priorities in order first. Writing has always been Sharpe’s passion. He majored in journalism at the University of Georgia and planned to write TV and movie scripts. But he realized the “starving artist” life wasn’t what he wanted, so he entered the corporate world of banking. He started Highways End when he was engaged to his wife, as a celebration of their love. But then life got in the way. While Sharpe billed Highways End as a love story, the characters deal with the pursuit of money, success and fulfillment in relationships that ultimately leave them feeling empty. That’s where the fiction intersects with Sharpe’s own experiences. “I was a workaholic, chasing money, caught up in the corporate rat race,” Sharpe said. And he was successful, holding positions of power and influence at a young age and making more money than he’d imagined. But he was less successful behind the scenes. “My marriage was malnourished, I’d play with my children but my mind was on work, I was 50 pounds heavier and under stress,” he said. “I thought I was having a heart attack and realized I was about to lose everything I held dear. That’s when I fell on my knees and surrendered everything to God.” That started a series of job adventures that actually saw him climbing higher on the ladder of success. He’d lose a position only to find himself in a better one with more money. Then one day he turned down a job offer, expecting to find an even better one. But that didn’t happen. Sharpe found himself on a sevenmonth “vacation” while seeking a job. That, however, allowed him to take a twoweek mission trip, something he would have never taken time for in the corporate world. When he returned from the mission trip, he found he had two job offers – one

Dagan Sharpe now has written two children’s books and recently added his first novel, Highways End. Photo by Gary Kauffman

for a lot of money that would require his family to uproot from their Augusta home, and another with Queensborough for less money than he’d made in a decade. Although he felt uncomfortable about moving, the choice seemed like an easy one until one night he overheard his daughter praying. In her prayer, she asked God for a job for her dad that would allow them to stay in Augusta. The next day Sharpe turned down the high-paying opportunity and took the position with Queensborough. “It was a big test of, ‘What am I chasing, money or ministry,’” Sharpe said. “Before I was always chasing money. Finally the lie of self-worth being tied to

8 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

net worth was broken. The test of money turned into my testimony.” As God had been changing his focus in life, Sharpe had also been changing the focus of his book. He scrapped some of his earlier writings and ideas, allowing the book to evolve into its finished form. “It has a definite Christian message,” Sharpe said. “It’s inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes and my own vain struggles.” He titled the book Highways End because all highways eventually come to an end – just like hopes and dreams. “All dreams and priorities come to an end and there’s a void,” Sharpe said. “People are trying to fill that void, but they can’t fill it with money, relationships or anything else other than Jesus Christ.”

Highways End is Sharpe’s first novel but not his first book. He also authored two children’s books, The Dinosaur Did It and Strong in the Kingdom Scrolls. He also writes a weekly blog, Career Call, to inspire and encourage people in the business world. Sharpe received positive responses to Highways End from family and friends, including his military father, who admitted parts of it made him cry. He’d also prayed for responses from those who don’t know him and recently he received an unsolicited positive book review from someone in England. Sharpe hopes the book will be an inspiration and even a wake-up call to others in the corporate world. “I’m not the only person in the corporate world who has been preoccupied with business,” he said. “My prayer is that God uses the book to speak to others like me.” Highways End is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and is also available for Kindle.

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706.823.6740 October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Investigating Your New Business

Do Your Due Diligence, But Heed Your Gut Instinct BY TIM DALTON

The process of buying a business involves some preliminary review and analysis in order for a buyer to provide a seller with an Offer to Purchase or Letter of Intent. The Offer to Purchase allows the buyer and seller to agree on a price and terms for the sale, while still permitting the buyer to conduct a full investigation of the business if there is an understanding on pricing. This investigation is most often referred to as due diligence. The preliminary information provided to a business buyer is a business summary prepared by the seller’s business broker or representative that gives a general overview of the business accompanied by some summary financial statements. This is obviously not enough information to make a full commitment to purchase the business, but preliminarily enough information to determine if the sales price makes sense for the buyer. Ultimately, there is a lot of time, energy and sometimes money that goes into due diligence. To get that process started before there is agreement on pricing and terms can be a waste of resources. However, when the buyer and seller have come to terms on the sale, then the due diligence period starts. The goal of the diligence period is to investigate the business for deficiencies, verify financial and performance information, get a clear understanding of operations and key employee roles, investigate customer makeup and retention and whatever else is deemed important to the buyer. There is never a standard, complete list

of diligence items, as purchasers become comfortable with a business at different levels of investigation. I have been surprised by how little some buyers have investigated a business, but I’ve become a little frustrated with how in-depth others have gone. At the end of the day, though, diligence is the responsibility of the buyer and it is up to them to get comfortable with the business to close on the sale. So who do you get involved in the diligence process? Most likely an accountant to help with a financial review of the business to verify cash flow, assets and liabilities. Then maybe look forward with financial projections and tax implication strategies. The accountant can help with the allocation of the purchase price for the various assets of the purchase. An ac-

10 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

countant may even be able to give some advice on improving the financial performance of the business. Another adviser would be an attorney that can help with drafting or reviewing the purchase agreement, non-compete and other legal aspects of the sale. An attorney may be able to investigate and advise on any serious legal issues the company previously experienced or help with regulatory, licensing or other legal advice a buyer may not be able to get comfortable with on their own. A third adviser may be someone who is already in the type of business that you are considering buying. They would most likely have to be outside of the area, as most owners are not interested in helping a competitor. But many are happy to offer advice about the pros and cons of

the industry and can alert a buyer about an aspect of the business operations they may not have considered. The diligence process of buying a business is probably the area that needs the most attention. But with that said, the buyer will most likely make a decision that is based on instinct as much as on the diligence of the business. Every business purchase has a certain amount of risk. Most trusted advisers, such as your accountant and/or your attorney, will rarely give the opinion that you would be foolish to not buy the business. We hire advisers to protect us, and the ultimate protection would be to not buy the business. Therefore, investigate, listen to your advisers, but also listen to what your gut tells you. Business ownership is a wonderful thing when you have the right business for you.

Tim Dalton is president of Integra Business Brokers and has more than 19 years of experience in the Augusta area assisting business buyers and sellers. Additional services include targeted business acquisitions, business valuations, and financing assistance. Tim is a licensed Real Estate Broker in Georgia and South Carolina. Contact him at 706-650-1100 or at Visit their website at www.

Escape from Reality Vet Applies Cyber Skills to Creating Downtown Escape Room BY WITT WELLS

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis raised an ax in the air and hurled it at a target on the wall. Onlookers packed into the Broad Ax Throwing Room at downtown’s new Source Code Escape Games cheered. Davis tried it a few more times. Minutes earlier, Davis had used the ax to cut a ribbon, signifying the official opening of a new 7,900-squarefoot escape room series on Broad Street, next to Sole. “We chose this location very deliberately, just so we could bring some excitement and entertainment to downtown Augusta,” said Vinnie Ingallinera, the escape room’s owner. After retiring from Fort Gordon, Ingallinera was looking for a way to apply his cyber skills elsewhere. He

decided on a series of cyber-themed escape rooms after designing and building them at his Augusta-based business Puzzle Props Inc. As cyber becomes an increasingly well-known Augusta industry, Ingallinera wanted to infuse his knowledge of things like network hacking into Augusta’s entertainment options. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to do this as a room, that’s how Hacker’s Headquarter’s got started.” But Source Code has more than just cyber-themed games. Posters that read “Hacker’s Headquarters” and “Subject X: Abduction” line a hallway that leads to games ranging from 5-minute escapes like “The Ringmaster’s Dressing Room” to the latest in virtual reality escape games. There, players can tackle a series of

puzzles in space or face their fears in a horror room. Of course, if you get stumped, don’t worry. You can take out your frustrations in the four-lane ax-throwing room right down the hall. “Our rooms are more of an adventure than just an escape,” said Liz Bellman, who works at Source Code Escape Games. Deaudis Dixon, another employee at Source Code, sits in a back room with two computer monitors, watching the movements of players in “The Ringmaster’s Dressing Room.” “It’s interesting to see how people interact,” Dixon said. “You get an insight into most people.” That’s one reason Ingallinera is marketing the venue for corporate groups that want to evaluate and

strengthen their teams’ skills. While escape rooms have become a common destination for businesses throughout the country, virtual reality escape games are still new territory for most. A self-proclaimed gamer, Dixon couldn’t get enough of it, so he bought a virtual reality headset himself. At Source Code, players can choose virtual escapes from a sci-fi abduction, a pharaoh’s tomb or a haunted mansion. In total, Source Code includes three virtual reality games escape games, the ax throw and three full escape rooms (two large and one 5-minute escape) with another set to open soon. Source Code Escape games is open on Wednesday and Thursday 3-10 p.m., Friday 3-11 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

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Did I Say That?

How You Dress for Work Speaks Volumes BY LIZ KLEBBA

One of the most frequent questions I am asked when people find out that I am an image and wardrobe coach is, “Well, how’d I do?” accompanied by a head-totoe waving gesture of the hands pointing out their sartorial selection. My answer is usually “That depends … What did you want to say?” A quizzical look usually follows my reply. I find myself explaining that dress is communication; what you put on in the morning speaks volumes before you ever open your mouth. What you wear does matter, whether you are working, or not. People often tell me that what they wear doesn’t matter because they work at home, or no one sees them at work because they are not “client-facing.” On the contrary, data shows that even if only dressing for yourself, it does matter what you wear. Not only does how we dress affect those around us and how we are perceived, it affects our own mood and perception of ourselves. This effect is called enclothed-cognition. In a study done at Northwestern University, subjects were tested while wearing a “doctor’s coat,” a “painter’s coat,” (identical to the M.D.’s coat) and no coat at all. Subjects performed better at a test of observation skill when wearing what they thought to be a doctor’s coat versus the painter’s coat or no coat at all. They had to be wearing the coat. Hanging it over the chair, or looking at it did not produce the same effect. “Dressing up” is not only good for us, but it is good for business, too. People perceive women dressed more (business) formally and conservatively as more intelligent, and these same women are more

likely to be hired, promoted and paid more. We hold ourselves differently in dress clothes than in casual wear, and we behave differently, too. In fact, correlations have been found between relaxing dress codes and rising rates of harassment. More-casual dress = more-casual behavior. The biggest complaint people have about “dressing up” for business is that they are uncomfortable. For some this is a physical discomfort – trousers are too tight or heels make feet hurt – but those are problems with the clothing purchased. There is no reason to buy uncomfortable clothes. If you have an issue with comfort (often the case with people who rate themselves as highly kinesthetic) then you need to be extra careful when selecting items for work. It takes careful research and effort, but will pay for itself (literally!) in the end. For others the discomfort is mental. They never have dressed in traditional office wear, or they are uncomfortable in their required corporate dress and feel like a fraud. For new entries into the corporate world who have spent their lives in jeans and athletic shoes, the discomfort can feel overwhelming. This is a real concern to address and requires a little more mental exploration than the physical discomfort issue. Unless you wear a proscribed uniform with no customization options, there are ways to make your workwear more mentally comfortable. If you work in a very traditional environment that requires a suit and tie five days a week, but have a more relaxed personality, there are ways to bridge the disconnect that may cause your mental discomfort. One option could be as simple as keeping a sweater on the back of your

chair to wear with your shirt, (loosened tie if male) and trousers when you are not in meetings. (Yes, this may smack of Mr. Rogers!) Often, purchasing business wear in colors that better suit your personality and personal coloring can bring your business dress in sync with your physical self and reduce discomfort. What we wear creates a feedback loop that we can use to our advantage. Say what you mean with your words, your actions and your clothing.

Liz Klebba of CP Image is a trained image and wardrobe coach and skilled member of the Association of Image Consultants International. She helps clients express their personal style in a way integrated with their lifestyles and values, and helps businesses finesse the tricky waters of employee dress issues with workshops, training, and mediation. Contact her at info@ or 706-691-4298.

CSRA Bridal Gown Shop Offers Movie Star Experience

When Brandy Gibson first opened Tiffinie Bleu Bridal Boutique in 2015, it was because she wanted to give Augusta brides a unique dress-shopping experience that she never had herself. “It wasn’t a memorable experience for me,” Gibson said. “The experience is something I wanted to give Columbia County.” Gibson aims to make the experience as close as possible to the one she dreamed of having at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York when she was younger. For her, the whole day ended up being pret-

ty mediocre. Gibson was living in the Augusta metro area then, too. “I wanted to make sure Columbia County had something to offer,” Gibson said. Tiffinie Bleu is the only bridal boutique of its kind in Columbia County, and Gibson has spent the last couple months settling into her new location at the Carraway Crossing shopping center. She wants local brides-to-be to know that they don’t have to go to places like New York or Atlanta to find beautiful dresses; they can find them in Augusta.

12 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

That doesn’t mean Gibson doesn’t take full advantage of the excellent work coming out of those big cities. She regularly meets with designers in places like New York and Los Angeles, and she goes to New York Bridal Fashion Week every year to stay on top of the latest trends. But then Gibson brings those new designs back to the low-pressure, easygoing environment of Augusta. “Brides do not feel pressured when they’re at my store,” Gibson said. When you imagine a celebrity go-

ing to a store to pick out her wedding dress, Gibson said, you don’t imagine her with a bunch of other brides. That’s why, when a bride-to-be and her guests have an appointment at her store, Gibson locks the doors, and that one future bride has the whole store to herself. “I wanted the bride to feel like she’s in a movie,” Gibson said. “When you’re in my shop, you’re the star. It’s more personal.” Tiffinie Bleu Bridal Boutique is located at 2549 Trade Center Drive, Suite 2.

Private Employers Have More Rights to Monitor Employees BY ED ENOCH

I recently heard about a manager who installed video cameras aimed directly at the employee workspace and at the door. The clear implication of these cameras seemed to be to monitor the employees’ “every move.” The employees were upset and felt this constant monitoring was an invasion of their privacy. Unfortunately for them, the manager was within his rights to put up the cameras. Private employers have much greater latitude to monitor, record and access employee behavior than do government employers. Our constitutionally protected right to privacy is a curb on government invasions of privacy, not private employers. Private employers do have to comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. However, that law was passed in 1986 and is woefully out of date when it comes to addressing today’s technology. Plus, the law contains a very large “business purposes” exception. Employees may have rights to privacy in private businesses, but generally only if the employer allows the right to be exercised. Privacy in the private sector

depends on whether the employee had a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. Some situations naturally create reasonable expectations of privacy. Employers do not have a right to install cameras in restrooms or showers. In other situations, the employer may create an expectation of privacy. For instance, if each employee is issued a locker and allowed to install their own lock without having to provide the key or combination to the employer, the employee likely has a reasonable expectation of privacy in that locker. For private businesses, the key is to have policies that establish the level of privacy, particularly for electronics such as laptop computers and cell phones. A policy that establishes that the employer has a right, at any time, to access and view information on company-issued equipment goes a long way toward lowering employees’ expectations of privacy. One company I know of splashes this policy warning on the startup screen of each company computer, so employees are constantly warned. For telephone communications in Georgia, at least one person on the conversation must know the conversation is being monitored or recorded – but both

The Walls Have Eyes! people do not have to know. The same is true for oral conversations or for email. Again, the private employer can work around this by informing employees that their communications are subject to monitoring. This is also a place where the shoe can be on the other foot. Employers cannot generally prohibit employees from recording communications the employee participates in, unless the subject matter is protected, such as company trade secrets. The moral of this story: the boss may be watching, but she needs to tell you first!

J. Edward “Ed” Enoch has practiced law in Augusta for more than 20 years, mostly focusing on helping business owners and companies to include formation, transition, business planning, contract writing, employment law and other areas of the law. Email jenoch@

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz



Thursday, Nov. 2

Catch the Buzz! Get more on events and follow business and economic news across the CSRA at

Pre-Legislative Breakfast, 7:30 a.m., Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Ben Harbin, former state representative and political strategist for Southern Strategy, will speak about how businesses can be part of the legislative process. Q&A with local state senators and representatives will follow. For more information, visit

Friday, Nov. 3 First Friday Means Business, 7:30 a.m., 117 Newberry St. NW, Aiken. Informative breakfast meeting with a keynote speaker. For more information, visit

Monday, Nov. 6 Drugs Don’t Work Seminar, 3 p.m., Columbia County Chamber Conference Room A. Drug-free workplace training, including information on supervisor responsibilities, understanding addiction and abuse, and barriers to seeking treatment. Presented by Terry Childers, community representative for Bradford Health Services. Seating limited so RSVP required. For more information, visit

Tuesday, Nov. 7 2017 Pre-Session Legislative Breakfast, 7:30 a.m., Legends Club, Augusta. Chris Clark, president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, will preview Georgia’s 2018 election cycle and its importance to local business. Registration deadline is Nov. 1. For more information, visit

Wednesday, Nov. 8 SCORE Seminar: Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Website, Facebook and Online Advertising, 10 a.m., Southern Wesleyan University, 802 E. Martintown Road, North Augusta. A presentation by Alan Jones, internet marketing and website specialist, that explains Google Analytics, Google AdWords and Facebook ads. For more information, visit

Ribbons Cuttings Scheduled Nov. 1:Pets and Claws Pet Bakery, 11:30 a.m., 908-B Broad St., Augusta Nov. 9:Brittany Boutique, 11 a.m., 403 Furys Ferry Road, Suite 114, Martinez Nov. 10:Junior League of Augusta, 11 a.m., 212 Partnership Drive, Grovetown Nov. 10:MedNow Urgent Care, 12 p.m., 469 Lewiston Road, Grovetown Nov. 16:Norris Financial Advisory Group, 10 a.m., 228 Baston Road, Augusta

Thursday, Nov. 9 Social Media 101 – from a Millennial Perspective, 6:30 p.m., North Augusta Chamber of Commerce Conference Room, 406 West Ave., North Augusta. Evan Read, founder and CEO of Eximia Marketing, helps business understand social media. Seating is limited so registration is required. For more information, visit

14 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

Monday, Nov. 13 North Augusta Golf Classic, 11 a.m., The River Golf Club, North Augusta. The 15th annual golf classic to serve community improvement initiatives. For more information, visit Networking for Leads, 3 p.m., Columbia County Chamber Office, 1000 Business Blvd., Evans. An environment for meaningful business relationships to give leads and create mutually beneficial relationships. For more information, visit

Thursday, Nov. 16 Third Thursday Business Builder, 11:30 a.m., Augusta Metro Chamber, 1 10th St., Augusta. The Ins and Outs of Cash Flow, presented by SME CPAs. Registration deadline is Nov. 13. For more information, visit Business After Hours and AYP Third Thursday, 5:30 p.m. An opportunity for businesses to present themselves to the business community. For more information, visit

Friday, Nov. 17 Good Morning, North Augusta, 7:30 a.m., Palmetto Terrace, North Augusta Municipal Complex, 100 Georgia Ave., North Augusta. “Build-

ing Your Small-Business Toolbox,” presented by Michelle Bennett, SME CPAs; Jon Dawkins, Chick-fil-A North Augusta; and Chris Rucker, Kruhu Education. For more information, visit

Sunday, Nov. 19 Passport Shopping Contest, continues through Nov. 25. Celebrate Small-Business Saturday. For details of how to download the Shopping Passport and the small businesses taking part, visit

Tuesday, Nov. 21 Women in Business, 11:30 a.m., Legends Club, Augusta. “Destination Augusta: Creating the Ultimate Tourism and Lifestyle Experience,” presented by Barry White of Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Stacie Adkins, Augusta Sports Council. Registration deadline is Nov. 17. For more information, visit

Saturday, Nov. 25 Small-Business Shopping Extravaganza, 10 a.m., St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 471 W. Martintown Road, North Augusta. Indoor and outdoor booths, door prize drawings. For more information, visit See EVENTS on Page 15

EVENTS Continued from Page 14

Wednesday, Nov. 29 Executive Luncheon – Cyber Panel Discussion, 11:30 a.m., Savannah Rapids Pavilion, Martinez. A cyber panel with Joanne Sexton, dean of Augusta Cyber Institute; Dr. William Hatcher, Augusta University; and Colin Comfort, Metova Inc./ Fort Gordon discusses what is happening locally and at Fort Gordon in the cyber world. For more information, visit

AT THECLUBHOU.SE Augusta Locally Grown has their Downtown Pick-up location at every Tuesday, 5-7 p.m. Entrepreneur members of meet every Wednesday morning for Founders Circle, 9-10 a.m. November 1: Join us for our monthly 1 Million Cups Augusta, a networking event for entrepreneurs. 8-9 a.m. November 1: Agile Augusta Meets to discuss facets of Agile Project Management. 6-7 p.m. November 8: Peter Buckley and Sal Manetta from CSR Angels and Jim Flannery from ATDC will speak on “How to Fund your Start-up” for ATDC’s monthly Lunch & Learn. 11:30am-1:30 p.m. November 8: Beer & Bytes is presented by ATDC and, with Katherine Piette, CEO and Founder of Corstrata sharing her Startup Story. 5-7 p.m November 16: PyAugusta gathers Python programming enthusiasts to tackle a specific topic each month and share their personal developments. 6-8 p.m November 17: Growler Gardening with Kim Hines and Augusta Locally Grown in the Community Garden at 5-7 p.m November 21: Holiday Pop-Up Shop presented by and Augusta Locally Grown, 4-7 p.m. November 27: The Robotics Meetup at is for those interested in all things robotic. 5:30-8:30 p.m. November 30: Javascript Meetup will meet this last Thursday of the month for November for those interested in exploring the JavaScript computer programming language. 6:30-8:30 p.m. October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Hats Off to Entrepreneurs

Take Your First Step Before Someone Beats You to It BY MARK ALISON

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I could sure do that better.”? Or, “If I were running that business, I would do things differently.” Or, “Wow, that was my idea and now somebody else is doing it.” If so, you are not alone. I drew an illustration for the shoe that became known as Air Jordans before Mike was playing basketball. I created Sonic’s No. 1 hamburger when I was just a teenager working at a local joint called Kelly’s Hamburgers. IKEA was also my idea. But I never got credit for any of it because I never took the first small step to make it happen. Oh, I had plenty of excuses: too young, no money, no connections, no time. All excuses and no motivation. But, the day came when my employer ticked me off enough to make me quit my job in the middle of a recession and start my own business. How ignorant is that? A family, two kids, mortgage, car payment, and I decided I’d had enough and besides, I could do it better. My first run at it didn’t do so well. Six months in I found I couldn’t trust my business partner so I started again, this

time by myself and with even more determination. They say necessity is the mother of invention. Paying our bills was the necessity. There is a name for people like me and, perhaps, you. Several come to mind. I was told I was out of my mind. But the true name is Entrepreneur. It’s a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater-than-normal financial risks in order to do so. “Risk” is a four-letter word that can scare you but it can also create the motivation you need. It was for me. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Throw your hat over the wall?” Irish writer Frank O’Connor, as a young boy, would walk through the countryside. When he and his friends came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and difficult to climb, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall. Now they had no choice but to climb over the wall because they risked getting a whipping if they came home without their hats. Risk is making a commitment so strong that not doing it becomes the risk. John Kennedy used the “hat over the wall” illustration in 1961 when he committed

16 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

America to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. He said, the United States had now “thrown its hat over the wall of space and had no choice but to follow it.” What is your goal Mr./Ms. Entrepreneur? You can make excuses or take a small step, and then, take the next step. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Start doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, then suddenly you are doing the impossible.” The hardest part is not running the business; it’s taking the first small step. Your passion and commitment will help you discover answers to the problems that initially held you back. In 1519 Hernán Cortés, with some 600 Spaniards, 16 or so horses and 11 boats, landed on a vast inland plateau called Mexico. Treasure was the prize and it would require the conquest of an empire. He spent the first few weeks giving motivational speeches to the under-equipped sailors. He knew that many before him had attempted this challenge, but he was determined to succeed. His speeches aren’t recorded but three words were immortalized. As they marched inland to face the enemy he shouted, “Burn the

boats.” Now there were only two choices – death or victory. Talk about turning risk into motivation! On Jan. 13, 2018, I will be giving a lecture titled “The Power of Life on Now.” It will teach people an easy way to set goals and how to make them happen. I will present this to a group of real estate entrepreneurs called AORE (Art of Real, but this is also your invitation. It happens at 8:30 a.m. at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. It’s a Saturday, so there is no excuse for you not being there. They collect $20 at the door, but I do it for free. I never thought of myself as a speaker but one day I threw my hat over the wall and now I am doing what I never thought possible.

Mark Alison, the Business Accelerator, is an independent marketing counselor. He can be reached at


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Financial Advisor October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Freeze Out Breach May Necessitate Freezing Your Credit Reports credit. If you do not want to freeze your credit account, you can place a fraud alert on the account. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you. Get in the habit of periodically checking your bank, credit card, retirement, and other financial accounts that could potentially be impacted now or down the road and make sure your internet security (antivirus, firewall, malware detector, etc.) is working properly. Finally, filing your taxes earlier, rather than later (i.e., at the last minute) helps prevent a hacker from filing a tax return using your stolen identifying information. Now is the time to watch out for Equifax-related scams. If you receive a phone call and the person on the other end says, “This is Equifax calling to verify your account information,” hang up immediately. It’s a scam because Equifax will not call you out of the blue. Stay safe and take steps to protect your data. Even if you were not affected by the Equifax data breach, it is always a good idea to monitor your bank and credit card accounts and immediately contact the bank if you find something amiss.


As we have all been hearing in the news, Equifax, one of the three major U.S. credit monitoring bureaus, was compromised earlier this year. The hackers had access to data from May to July 2017, including names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. As many as 145.5 million people in the United States were affected, as well as 400,000 in the United Kingdom and 8,000 consumers in Canada. Credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed, according to Equifax. Many folks are asking what to do if they were impacted by the Equifax data breach. The first thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is to obtain and review your credit report(s) and determine whether there has been any unusual activity. Next, check whether your data has been hacked using the special website Equifax set up for data breach victims ( You will need to provide your last name and the last six numbers of your Social Security number. From there you can sign up for their free credit monitoring service. You won’t be able to enroll immediately; however, you will be given a date when you can return to the site to enroll. Keep in mind that Equifax will not send you a reminder to enroll so you should mark the date on your calendar so that you can start monitoring your credit as soon as possible. Equifax removed the arbitration clause from the website that was set up for data breach victims. The arbitration clause stated that by signing up for the free ID theft protection and monitoring from

its trusted ID service a consumer could not take legal action against the company – including participating in any classaction lawsuits that might arise from the breach. Then freeze your credit report accounts at each of the credit bureaus. Freezing your credit reports (make sure to freeze your account at each of the credit bureaus) prevents anyone (including new creditors) from accessing your account.

Equifax has waived the fee until Nov. 21) and has agreed to refund fees to those who have paid since Sept. 7, which is the date that the data breach was announced. Keep in mind that you will have to “unfreeze” your credit with each bureau if you are planning on new asset purchases that require bank loans, new credit card applications or anything else that you may be doing that needs a credit check. There may be fees involved to “unfreeze” your

Christine Hall is a partner in Hall, Murphy & Schuyler PC, a full-service accounting firm. For a complimentary accounting, tax or business consultation, call 706.855.7733 or email

Northwest Meets Southeast in Unique North Augusta Coffee Shop BY WITT WELLS

Bear cubs aren’t quite as common in Augusta as they are in the mountains of the American Northwest. Neither are drive-through-only coffee shops. “There isn’t one here, so we thought this would be a really good business to start,” said Sharon Nirk, founder of Cubs of Coffee in North Augusta. Nirk opened the store in August and is happy with her success so far. The hand-carved wooden bears that cling to the sides of her building, which was built

in Montana, might be not be out of the ordinary in northwestern states. But on Belvedere-Clearwater Road in North Augusta, they’re a unique style not found in the CSRA. Nirk grew up in the Northwest. Washington was her childhood home and the place where she met her husband. She moved to the Augusta area 10 years ago after having been a teacher for nearly a decade. She continued to teach in Aiken and Columbia counties for almost another 10 years before bringing a type of cof-

18 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

fee shop well-known to Washingtonians to the East Coast. “There’s Starbucks, they have Dunkin’ Donuts,” Nirk said. “This is different.” Nirk says the closest establishment similar to Cubs of Coffee that she can think of is in Columbia. So why not bring the goodness to North Augusta? Running a small coffee shop by herself keeps Nirk on her toes during peak hours, but she covers all the coffee lover’s go-tos – espressos, lattes and coffee. She purchases her coffee from New Moon on

Broad Street in Augusta and uses Monin Coffee Syrup, which she says is her favorite. Nirk even uses coffee to make ice cubes for iced coffee drinks, which she says customers enjoy. “I want to eventually open another (shop) in the CSRA,” Nirk said. For now, the coffee cubs will keep clinging to the building at 791 BelvedereClearwater Rd. Cubs of Coffee is open 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.


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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Heads Up!

4 Ways to Manage a Company Crisis – Before It Happens Don’t forget your people As the leader of your company, keep in mind your team may have suffered emotionally as a result of the incident. So, create a safe environment for your team to share their grievances and provide them with support through the healing process. Not only will this show you care for their well-being, but listening to your staff might help with retention. Crisis management is never fun to think about, but I believe the true test of business leadership is best seen in times of crisis. So, stay in control of your story by being honest about the incident yet hopeful about the future.


What do Pepsi, United Airlines and Cosmopolitan magazine have in common? Each of these widely recognized brands was hit hard this year with scandals that impacted their reputation and stocks. What a tough reminder of how quickly a crisis can lead to a loss of customers, sponsors and profits. Although I’m an entrepreneur, I still have a 9-to-5 job handling public relations for an academic health center and I know a thing or two about crisis management. One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t always predict when a crisis will strike, but it’s never too early to begin planning for incidents that might impact the reputation of your company. Here are a few tips to help you manage your reputation during a crisis: Get a plan Your initial step is to develop a media plan that contains media contact information and assignments on who will be your company’s spokesperson, media manager and social media monitor. Consider investing some time in pre-drafting a few news releases and statements so you will have these documents ready during critical times. Be fast and be honest A crisis can strike any time and you

must act quickly at the first sign of trouble. Ideally, you should send out a statement within 24 hours to help prevent issues from becoming bigger, and it may also help salvage your reputation. Additionally, be sure to always admit your errors, apologize for messing up and share details on how to you plan to rectify the problem. Not only will this keep your customers informed, but your transpar-

ency might keep some positivity flowing during a negative time. Monitor the social media chatter Since most people get their news from social media, it is imperative that you monitor your online reputation. Many large companies have staffed social media managers. However, smaller businesses can use news alert platforms to stay close to online conversations regarding your company.

Danielle Harris is the CEO and founder of SDI, a leadership mentoring program for entrepreneurs, and earned her certification as a Personal Development Coach from the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute, an affiliate of the International Coach Federation. Reach her (762) 333-2868 or at

Finding What Really Matters

If You Feel Like a Rat, It’s Time to Drop out of the Rat Race BY DAGAN SHARPE

We might conclude that if we are caught up in the proverbial “rat race” then we must be one of the rats. Not a nice thought, I know, but definitely worth our self-examination. I know once I realized I was one of the rats in the race, it helped direct me to some new life choices. Below are three areas I made changes in and the questions I had to ask myself. Positions: I possess an ambitious nature. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing. In competitive sports it comes in handy, and is very useful when it comes to completing tasks and initiatives. However, it can also create a large imbalance in priorities, if not properly aligned. What if our ambition creates in us an overpowering desire to climb higher and higher at the sacrifice of and the neglect of other areas, such as our health, our families and our faith? Possessions: We can also get caught up in possessing more, but ultimately how much do we really need? Also, why do we

feel we need so much? What is the “good life” truly? Is it simply having more toys, or is it being rich in areas where it ultimately counts, like in our friendships, our families, our purpose and our faith? Promotions: Another area of the rat race involves increasing our popularity, or promotion, with others. This is also known as being a peoplepleaser. Seems so subtle and innocent to want to please others and have them like us – what’s wrong with that? H o w e v e r, this too can mask deeper intentions that are not so innocent. If we pursue popularity, we

20 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

risk losing our identity, or even worse, never even knowing who we were truly born to be. Why do we desire others to like us so much, and at what cost? What are we willing to compromise and allow ourselves to become enslaved to? Our time on this earth is short, yet it’s so easy to squander it on hollow treasures. There’s a tug to surrender daily, sometimes hourly, to the self-focused attractions this world offers. However, in reality, those are where my focus should be, because all my kids really want is their daddy with them. And my wife, she just wants her soulmate and friend. They just want me – my time and my love, not positions, possessions or promotions.

So many songs and movies have been made about workaholics who unknowingly sacrifice their loved ones and more important matters for their work. We should always strive to excel and give our very best in all we do, but never at the cost of others. This ultimately makes us much more effective at our work and at home. It empowers us to invest our time wisely, and to boycott simply being just another rat in the race.

Dagan Sharpe is senior vice president of Queensborough National Bank & Trust and the author of a stewardship book, Bank On It. Email dsharpe@qnbtrust. com.

The Science of Bread

German Physicist’s Love for Baking Brings Him to Augusta BY WITT WELLS

One might not expect a physicist publishing research like “Energy-Efficient, High-Color-Rendering LED Lamps Using Oxyfluoride and Fluoride Phosphors” to be equally fascinated by the baking of bread. But every Saturday at 5:30 a.m., a German physicist named Uwe Happek loads up his van with freshly baked bread, croissants, streusel and the like, and drives 90 miles from Comer, Ga., to the Augusta market. He sets up shop in the midst of two rows of vendors selling organic vegetables, local art, and of course, more baked goods. For passersby, Happek’s display of artisanal sourdough and chocolate-filled croissants are just one more booth in a long strip that stretches from Reynolds Street to the Augusta Riverwalk. But for Happek, it’s the most recent stop on decades-long journey, one that took him from Germany to New York, to Comer, and now, in the near future, to a bakery on 8th Street. Happek and his wife, Angela Cooper, enjoyed their experience in Augusta so much that they’re opening a bakery here next year. They’ll change the name of their Comer bakery, The Comerian, to 8th Street Bakery. Happek said it’s the norm for the biology and chemistry of bread to pique the interest of scientists in those realms. The same holds true among beer enthusiasts, whose forays into home-brewing and micro-brewing are often rooted in experimentation among colleagues in medical fields, as doctor and owner of Savannah River Brewing Company Steve Ellison can attest. “As a scientist, I got interested in the sourdough, the way you feed the starter,” Happek said. “Bread is a living thing.” After studying physics at Cornell, Happek landed a job as a professor at the University of Georgia, where he continues to do research on energy-efficient lighting materials. He’s dedicated much of his life’s work to understanding, to put it simply, why certain materials work better than others. “For me, it’s engrained that you have to get better every day,” Happek said. “Sometimes things don’t always work out, but what I love is to find out why.” Happek first started getting regular exposure to the baking process when his wife picked it up as a hobby while pursuing a career that would put her cognitive science and math degrees to good use.

German physicist Uwe Happek plans to open a bakery in Augusta next year. Photo by Witt Wells

That proved difficult, but Cooper’s interest and skills in baking continued to flourish. She eventually became an assistant to another Athens baker who sold his goods at the Athens Farmers Market. As Cooper honed her skills and expanded her repertoire, she decided to start her own bakery – The Comerian. By that point, the craft was no less fascinating to Happek. And, of course, he’s come to appreciate the physics of it all. “It’s not only dependent on what’s in the bread, but how fast you mix it,” Happek said. The proof is in the streusel. It’s clear in the reactions among Augusta market visitors that it doesn’t take a bread baker to tell the difference between a croissant from The Comerian tent and one from the nearest Starbucks. Happek likens it to the difference between French cheese and Velveeta. “Hey man, that croissant was dope,” said one man as he walked by. Of course, there’s always room to grow. The reality that he will he will never bake the perfect loaf of bread is exactly what keeps Happek innovating. Last year in Athens, he and Cooper started experimenting with ancient grains like kamut

and spelt, both of them seeing a growing appeal among people seeking out new products at local markets. “This comes from being a scientist,” Happek said. “You have to be better than the rest.” For a baker, Happek says, “time is an important ingredient.” There is no substitute for it. When Happek puts bread in the oven on Wednesday, it isn’t fully ready until Sunday. Oven temperatures rise and fall throughout the weekly cycle. It’s a craft that bread bakers often think of in terms of managing the curve on a graph of heat and time, and perfecting it is a lifelong pursuit. As Happeks’ display at the Augusta Market has become consistent, so has Happek’s fondness of Augustans. It’s not because of the sales. He and his wife bring in twice as much in sales from the Athens Farmers Market on Saturdays as they do on the banks of the Savannah River. In a growing downtown scene, Happek and Cooper are getting a head start. They’re glad they decided to buy a storefront in Augusta when they did; Happek says the value of the building they bought on 8th Street, between Broad Street and Ellis, has already doubled since they

bought it last November. Still, they have their work cut out for them. Happek still wants to knock out the 8th Street building’s low ceilings, just one element of a full-blown renovation. The Comerian’s founders are also still looking for a skilled baker who can run the bakery in Augusta. Happek and Cooper will probably spend most of their time in Comer and Athens. “People starting businesses here always say, ‘We’re excited to come to Augusta,’” Happek said. “Well, we like it here already!” Happek thinks there’s “more to Augusta than James Brown and The Masters,” and the diverse population of downtown Augusta is a fresh sight for Happek, who says he hasn’t seen the same in Athens. For Cooper, it’s a nostalgic reminder of her hometown of Savannah. “Angela lived in Savannah, and Augusta reminds her of Savannah 20 years ago,” Happek said. It seems Happek and Cooper have found the right timing, a practice they’ve been honing ever since they launched The Comerian. “We’re like a lemonade stand gone wild,” Happek said.

October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Businessperson of the Month

Accidental Entrepreneur Job Layoff Sent Chad Trollinger in New Direction BY GARY KAUFFMAN

The best thing that happened to Chad Trollinger’s career was losing his job and being unemployed for a year. “That was one of the best years of my life, after losing my job,” Trollinger said. “People freak out when I say that.” It was the progression of events during that year that led Trollinger to open a WelcomeMat franchise in the Augusta area in March 2014, a business that has grown so much that he purchased a second franchise and is hiring an employee. WelcomeMat serves the dual purpose of helping people moving to the Augusta area become acclimated and helping local businesses develop new customer relationships. “There are certain loyalties people have in their communities, to the car wash, doctor, dentist, pet groomer, salon, favorite restaurant,” Trollinger said. “They go to them a lot and are loyal to them. But when they move, all those categories get wiped away.” WelcomeMat mails coupons from local merchants to those new move-ins, giving them a starting point in replacing those loyalties. Merchants benefit by gaining new customers who often develop longterm loyalties. “It’s easier to get a new customer when you’re targeting nobody’s customer,” Trollinger said. “People who live here have certain loyalties already and breaking habits is hard.” It works. Trollinger cited the example of a family who used a coupon to try a local restaurant. Now that family eats at the restaurant once a week, sitting at the same table, and a relationship has developed between the owner and the family. “My goal is to help you gain longtime loyal clients, and on the other side of the coin, help new people get acclimated to the area,” Trollinger said. “I’m passionate about both.” But it’s a passion that might have gone undeveloped had Trollinger not lost his job in marketing for a local sportswear company. After more than seven years, he was let go in March 2013. He had a marketing degree, and had used it only with corporations for 15 years after college, so he spent the first eight months of his unemployment sending résumés around the country to regain employment in the corporate world.

Chad Trollinger, WelcomeMat But then one night, after reflecting on his goals, talking to his wife and praying, Trollinger realized that he no longer desired a corporate job. He spent the next two months preparing a business plan to develop his own marketing firm. But before he could get started on that, he reached out to a business coach who told him about the world of franchise businesses. For the next two months, after an extensive self-evaluation process and investigating various franchise opportunities, Trollinger settled on the WelcomeMat franchise. He began working for WelcomeMat one year to the day after losing his job. Unexpectedly, the year of unemployment provided many benefits. “There are hundreds of stories of the Lord sharpening me,” Trollinger said. “I learned more about myself, my relationship with my wife reached a whole new level, and I was able to teach my children. I grew because I had to.” Trollinger kept a journal during that year and returns to it on occasion to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and provision during that time. Trollinger’s faith is obviously an important aspect of his life, and he doesn’t hide it from his clients. “I’m branding Chad,” he said. “I’m a gospel-centered relationship builder who is getting to know people rather than just wearing the hat of a business owner. To-

22 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

day, for example, I was praying with one of my clients who recently lost her dad.” He also learned the value of networking during that year as he developed many relationships during his job search and moving into his own business. “That fed right into WelcomeMat,” he said. “Networking has become one of my passions that wasn’t there before.” Trollinger is also now a fan of entrepreneurship. “I’d never considered entrepreneurship but once I learned about franchising, I got all geeked up about it,” he said. “I love being an entrepreneur now and I’m suggesting it to people.” He also suggests franchises as a way for people to start their own business. Franchises offer support and already have proven systems in place. “It’s like an engine that’s already running and you’re a spark plug getting plugged in,” he said. In October, Trollinger reached a milestone in his business – hiring an employee. He also plans to open an office. Up to that point, Trollinger was the only employee, running the business from his home and his well-used car. But adding employees has been one of his goals since the outset. “I want to be an organization that creates jobs,” he said. What are you passionate about in your business? Networking, building relationships, serving – being a servant-leader is my model. I get all wrapped up in taking care of the clients and helping people get acclimated to the community. I’m passionate about local business. My clients get excited about seeing new people come

in their door. No. 1 is my ability to share my faith with people every day. There’s no corporate mandate that says I can’t put my faith out there. I make it clear early on so people can see what drives me is my faith. Where do you get inspiration and motivation? My faith, of course. I read tons of books. I meet with lots of people all the time. My goal is to help people, but the result of serving people is that it reciprocates. I surround myself with older people, younger people, from all walks of life. That gives me inspiration and motivation. How do you unwind? I’ve committed to my wife to hold me accountable to shut it down and have family time. I work out every day and I’m passionate about fitness. I do a lot of leadership and mentoring of guys. I intentionally set up meetings with people outside of my business and we don’t talk business at all, so it’s not all business 24/7. What is the best and worst part of being an entrepreneur? The best part is the ability to build relationships. The worst part is decisionmaking, hoping to make the right decision to keep the business moving forward. You don’t sit on a decision, you move on. I don’t hate it, but the decision-making process is the most challenging. How do you give back to the community? I haven’t been able to give back financially yet, although I want to, but I try to make myself available to be a speaker and by being an ambassador for the chamber. I helped with the B2B Expo; Neil Gordon, Tony Robinson and I talked about that three years ago. My hope in that is to create an event for people to network. And with each person I meet, I say, “My goal is to serve you with excellence.” I do more giving back on a more individualized, personal level. What does the future hold for you and your business? I don’t know why I can’t build a business here, if the Lord wills, that will last for a long time, creating jobs and employment opportunities. My big, hairy, audacious goal is 20-25 years down the road that this will be a mini-empire that provides for me personally but also allows me to give away tons of money to missions. I would love for my son and daughter to be in the business at some point.


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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


A New Way of Eating CSRA’s Grocery Stores Work to Keep Pace with Changing Eating Habits BY WITT WELLS

Add grocery shopping to the long list of American mainstay products and institutions reportedly affected by the whims of Millennials, who aren’t buying groceries as much as their parents and grandparents. As people have increasingly come to prefer eating at restaurants rather than grocery shopping and cooking at home, the responsibility for this trend has been laid solely at the feet of young adults. However, as a report from The Atlantic last year pointed out, data suggest that these shifting habits, while characteristic of Millennials, are demonstrative of broader trends. While people aged 25-34 spent nearly 47 percent of their total food expenses away from home in 2015, people aged 35-44 spent around 44 percent of their food budget away from home, according to a recent survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For senior citizens it was 38 percent, an 11 percent increase since 2005. In other words, shopping and eating habits have changed for a wide range of Americans, and it’s not just that people are eating out more. They’re still shopping. They’re just doing it differently. Shoppers are going to multiple stores to find what they want. Others are not going anywhere and having their groceries delivered to their front door. And of course, Amazon is getting in on everything, from Amazon Fresh to its buyout of Whole Foods. The impact of a shifting grocery market has been evident for a few years, but it has become particularly visible in Augusta over the last couple of months. In September, German grocer Lidl opened two stores in Augusta and North Augusta. Around the same time, San Francisco-based grocery delivery service Instacart, which services Publix and Costco, launched in the CSRA. Sprouts is slated to open next year. Kroger and Walmart started taking orders online last year and preparing them for curbside pickup. In the midst of the chaos of change, it’s helpful to take a step back and look at some of the highlights and how they’re affecting the way CSRA residents shop. Here, we talk to customers about the appeal of trending local stores, update you on the most convenient ways to shop in the CSRA, cover the latest grocery comings and goings and check in with a local organic grocer that’s been in Augusta

Top, North Augusta’s Lidl was the second one opened in the CSRA in September. The German chain’s discounted, in-store brands and modest selection resemble the strategies of its home country rival, Aldi. Photo by Gary Kauffman Bottom, Walmart has launched four Neighborhood Markets in the CSRA, an attractive store for shoppers looking for the brand’s low prices in a traditional grocery store. Photo by Witt Wells

long enough to watch it all unfold. AHEAD OF THE CURBSIDE Augustans are rarely in a rush compared to big city dwellers, but technology advancements in the grocery business have given CSRA residents reason to save a little time when looking to restock the pantry. It’s happening so fast that sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused. What is Instacart anyway, and how do you use it? To make things easier, we looked at each of the big grocers in the area that have made adjustments to survive in an increasingly connected world. Instacart (Publix, Costco) There are plenty of shoppers in the south who stay loyal to Publix for its customer service and pleasant atmosphere, but the Florida-based brand might have

24 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

just recruited a few more fans to its bandwagon. Last month, San Francisco-based Instacart launched in the CSRA, giving shoppers who prioritize convenience something to look forward to. Instacart has been called “the Uber of grocery shopping,” a service that provides a personal shopper to do all the shopping for you. “Over the past year we’ve seen incredible demand in the Augusta area,” said Dave Osborne, senior regional director for Instacart. “We work with a variety of local retailers to provide the freshest, highest quality groceries to our customers.” For a fee of $5.99, Instacart will deliver groceries to CSRA residents in one hour. For $3.99, a personal shopper will get you the goods within two hours. It also offers a $14.99 monthly fee and a $149 annual

fee that waives individual delivery fees for shoppers who plan to use the service extensively. Locally, Instacart is currently servicing two stores that are a destination for groceries: Publix and Costco. (They’re also servicing Petco and CVS.) Most areas in the CSRA that will reap the benefits of Instacart’s launch. The service has a widespread delivery radius of 156,000 households in Augusta, North Augusta, Aiken, Aiken Heights, Balltown, Graniteville, Beech Island, Warrenville, Martinez, Evans, Grovetown and Belvedere. If you’re a resident in one of those areas, just go to and start shopping. Kroger Kroger CIO Chris Hjelm put it simply in an interview with the Wall Street Journal earlier this year: “Stores are big and complicated. We need to make them simple.” Kroger is doing just that when it comes to using technology to make shopping easier for customers, particularly in the realm of e-commerce. From 2012 to 2017, online grocery revenues grew 10.1 percent in the U.S. and are projected to continue climbing, according to a report from market researcher IBISWorld. Kroger’s answer? ClickList, an online ordering service that the supermarket launched at its Grovetown location last year. The service allows customers to shop from home and pick up their groceries curbside. With ClickList, shoppers can peruse an entire store’s product selection and pick exactly what they want, down to the ripeness of the produce they choose. Kroger charges $4.95 for curbside pickup of groceries selected by a specialized employee. “My wife could save time doing curbside pickup, not having to get the kids out of the car,” said Ahmed Quresh, a regular Kroger shopper who downloaded the ClickList app but has yet to use it. “For me, I have no problem walking in and seeing people, seeing the store.” Currently, the only Kroger location in the CSRA that provides the ClickList service is the Kroger marketplace in Grovetown. Walmart Kroger isn’t the only supermarket meeting its customers outside the building. See Grocery on Page 25

Five Questions about Earth Fare By Witt Wells

Earth Fare has been a staple provider of organic food in Augusta since the early 2000s, when the organic food movement started to gain steam. As grocery stores have come and gone, Earth Fare has remained a favorite among Augustans. Here are five questions answered by Earth Fare spokesperson Laurie Aker about the company’s vision for healthy food and the customers they serve. What is the background of Earth Fare’s history of not selling meat raised using hormones or food that contains certain chemicals? From the start, Earth Fare has been committed to making healthy food accessible to everyone, everywhere. Our top priority is our shopper and as such, we adhere to the highest food quality standards in the industry. Our Food Philosophy ensures that all food sold in our stores is free of hundreds of harmful chemicals and ingredients, including added hormones. What was the vision behind the ‘Live Longer with Earth Fare’ label?

Stores like Sprouts, Earth Fare and even Lidl boast fresh, robust produce selections, while others, including Kroger, have marketed their in-store specialists who will select produce of a certain ripeness specified by the shopper for curbside pickup. Photo Special

Live Longer with Earth Fare is a rallying cry for Americans to take back control of their health by choosing only the cleanest, healthiest foods available. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for Americans in 2015 declined for the first time in more than two decades. Our Boot List, which is updated regularly and can be found at, forbids hun-

dreds of harmful chemicals and ingredients from making their way onto our shelves. We also offer tools and resources to our shoppers, including recipes and educational tutorials on, to ensure they are making the healthiest choices for themselves and their families, every day. How do you compare to other grocers in the area? Earth Fare has distinguished itself as a leader in the healthy foods industry by developing a unique food philosophy that informs every product offered in the store. This food philosophy is exemplified by a rigorous set of quality standards, which ensures that all items are free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats, artificial trans-fats, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromated flour, and never administered antibiotics or growth hormones. The full list of unacceptable ingredients can be found on our Boot List. Which of your products are favorites among your customers?

Shopper favorites include deals offered through our Clean Food Security program, including $5 rotisserie chicken, a half-pound of brown rice in our bulk department for only $7.69 and Earth Fare take-and-bake pizzas for just $6 on Fridays. Earth Fare Augusta shoppers will also recognize several local products, including honey from Byne Blueberry Farm, and craft beer from Savannah River Brewery. Are there areas in which Earth Fare is currently trying to innovate? Earlier this year, Earth Fare announced that all of our more than 750 private brand food products are sourced using only non-GMO ingredients. We also recently launched our Clean Food Security  program, offering shoppers clean, healthy, convenient meals designed to feed a family of four, seven days a week, for an average of $2.50 per person, per meal. At Earth Fare, we believe that families deserve access to clean, healthy meal options and shouldn’t have to sacrifice when it comes to cost or convenience.

the East Coast that will bring close to 80 more Lidl stores to the east coast by next year, its first store in Georgia and another in North Augusta were opened. In the country that created the Walmart Supercenter, much of Lidl’s appeal is in its relatively small size comparable to that of a Trader Joe’s. It features spacious aisles that are few in number and rarely shelved with more than a couple variations of the same item. However, Lidl has also developed a set of trademark perks that keep its fans coming back for more, namely a bakery full of fresh, low-priced croissants and cookies, and a markdown retail department that changes every week. “My favorite part is the bakery and the produce,” said Julia Brown, a North Augusta resident. “It’s like Aldi on steroids.” Lidl’s intent is clear: be a market that simultaneously provides a delightful shopping experience and streamlines the shopping process that many Americans – particularly Millennials – have deemed a hassle and forgone altogether. One of the primary ways that Lidl executes in order to streamline shopping is one that is perhaps its biggest selling point: its heavily discounted in-store brands, similar to ones that have become popular at markets like Kroger and Aldi as well. “I’m more about the price than the

name-brand,” says Henry Bodie, who lives within walking distance of the Lidl in North Augusta. At Aldi, discounted in-store brands are the name of the game, and they’ve been a world of difference for shoppers like Joseph Settles. For Settles, Aldi’s lack of frills doesn’t mean much after he swipes his credit card. “It’s gotten to the point where I’m not even adding up the cost of the items,” Settles said. Not only is there a financial advantage to buying the in-store brands, but Settles agrees with what many proponents of deliciously affordable off-brand grocery items at Aldi have found: you can’t tell that much of a difference in taste anyway. “Take this bacon, for instance,” Settles said. “It’s not Johnsonville, but it’s bacon! And it’s $1.75 cheaper. You can really tell the difference when you get to the cash register.” Lidl’s discount brands have also made it famous an ocean away from its home country, and it’s paying off for Garden City shoppers, too. A few customers at the grocer’s North Augusta location said that while they found Lidl valuable for a wide selection of items, they were unable to find certain items that they hadn’t had a problem locating during routine shopping trips to other grocers that have larger selections.

Grocery Continued from Page 24 Walmart launched an e-commerce service of its own last year. Shoppers can order their items at and pick them up in the parking lot of any of the chain’s supercenters and all four of its local Neighborhood Markets. Walmart doesn’t charge a pick-up fee for orders that cost less than $30. The chain’s Neighborhood Markets are a particularly attractive option for customers in Augusta, Martinez, Grovetown and Hephzibah looking for a convenient, mid-sized grocery store. Jim Bilodeau, who shops at the Neighborhood Market in Martinez after work, enjoys a particular perk of Walmart’s app: by using the app to scan the barcode on any item, customers get money back if that item was discounted at any other store in the area. “It adds up surprisingly quickly if you buy name brands,” Bilodeau said. QUICK BITES The Fresh Market continues to play to its strengths, offering fresh fillets and produce daily, not to mention its “ThreDay Deals” on the weekends. The Fresh Market’s website is an ideal vehicle for navigating what the organic grocery store has to offer. Bi-Lo is giving a big push to its Plenti Points system, which allows shoppers to save money on groceries and gas. Cus-

tomers can find weekly ads on Bi-Lo’s website to start saving. Food Lion continues to market the specials customers have access to with the brand’s “MVP” coupons and cards. There’s no shortage of savings opportunities on the company’s website. Sprouts Farmers Market is slated to hit west Augusta in the spring of 2018. The organic grocery chain has around 275 stores nationwide, according to its website, and will open at the Crane Creek shopping center near the corner of I-20 and Walton Way Extension. The store boasts a robust selection of around 500 produce items in its stores, which are designed to feel like an indoor farmers market. GERMAN TAKEOVER Germany-based Aldi is nothing new to the Augusta area (there are now four in the CSRA), but local residents are still digging the Germany-based market’s low prices. Nationally, the grocery chain is on a roll. Aldi has more than 1,600 stores in the U.S. and plans to open another 900 by 2022. But last month, stiff competition came to town in the form of another German grocer: Lidl. Lidl has more than 10,000 stores in Europe and opened its first U.S. locations this summer in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. During a sweep of

October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Fourth Quarter Huddle Columbia County Chamber Has the Game Plan to Win ership development is tied to two things: developing leaders through community awareness while that particular individual grows personally and professionally. Goal 6 is the advocacy role that drives influence and economic prosperity for our region. Goal 7 is to ensure that your local chamber of commerce is stable – not only in finances, but also in reputation as a voice for business. We don’t just say it, we do it – and we are a 5-Star Accredited Chamber of Commerce by the U.S. Chamber, a designation that only 1 percent of chambers nationwide obtain. That’s how we strive as a team to ensure that your local Columbia County Chamber of Commerce wraps up the fourth quarter with a win for all of our members and communities. If you are not yet a chamber of commerce member, consider making it part of your fourth quarter planning – we would love to have you join our huddle. See you in the end zone!


Closing in on the fourth quarter! What do you think of when you hear fourth quarter? Is it a football game where you hold up four fingers to signify the start to the fourth quarter? Or is it the last 15 minutes when you need to score a touchdown to win the game? For businesses, the fourth quarter can have a variety of meanings. For many in retail, the fourth quarter may be their strongest revenue quarter and for others it’s panic time to figure out how to make the year-end budget. Do you throw away the playbook known as a strategic business plan or do you make modifications to those things within your control? The bottom line is, will your year-end figures look like you are in the championship game, split the season, or was it a rebuilding year? For the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, the fourth quarter is the most intense, yet rewarding time of the year. Fourth quarter activities include State of the Community Address, Principal for a Day, our annual golf tournament, professional development luncheons, networking events and the annual trip to Washington, D.C. Each of these is tied to the strategic plan set forth by the board of directors of the chamber. Let me break down our playbook. Goal 1 is the business viability of the chamber. Basically, this represents the internal operations of staffing, retention, goal-setting for membership numbers and volunteers as extended staff.

Goal 2 focuses on external communications tools and messaging for the organization to grow the impact of the mission. Goal 3 supports the most critical need for our community. Most employers’ No. 1 concern is the need for a well-trained and qualified workforce.

Goal 4 serves our external members and provides a direct product or resource for them to grow and thrive. Goal 5 strategies drive regionalism and leadership development. For the chamber, regionalism is the strength of the numbers of multiple organizations working together to achieve a shared goal. Lead-

Tammy Shepherd is president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and has worked at Disney World, Savannah Rapids Pavilion and Columbia County Magazine. Email


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26 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Please visit the businesses of our B2B sponsors, exhibitors and speakers. Their stories and ads appear on the following pages:

Event held October 19th at Savannah Rapids Pavilion

Best Office Solutions Josue Garcia CPA Solid Ground Professionals Chilton & Gibbs Blanchard & Calhoun Real Estate Payscape The Pot Smoker BBQ AlphaGraphics BrandStorm Promotions WataNut Cracker Barrel Matthews & Mayo CCPS POS Data Tech Twisted Burrito News 12 Catalyst Advertorial Hull College of Business Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce Chicken Salad Chick Belair Donuts

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Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2043

October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Learning Environment Quality Local Speakers Help Businesses Do Business Better BY GARY KAUFFMAN

Sitting at an expo booth all day can often be a less-than-inspiring experience. But at the 2nd Annual B2B Expo on Oct. 19, a full lineup of speakers created a learning environment for both vendors and those who attended the expo. “The speakers were engaging, which always makes a long day seem shorter,” said Ali Mays of Vivacity Marketing & Consulting. “There was a lot of helpful information for all the types of vendors. Anybody could take it and apply it to their business to help them grow.” Two speakers specifically mentioned by vendors were Kurt Mueller of Consolidated Planning and Amy Kilpatrick of Nspired Business Solutions. “Kurt did an amazing job,” said Matt Smart of Smart Safes. “I’m kind of blunt myself, which is why he appealed to me the most, because of his directness.” Jeff Asselin of Loop Recruiting especially liked Kilpatrick’s networking talk. “She was amazing,” he said. “She reminds us that we have two ears for a reason and that we do what we can to help others.” The following is a synopsis of the talks given throughout the day. Sandi Shields and Robin Baxley, Best Office Solutions The duo spoke about the current trends in office furniture and design, some of it spurred by the needs of the Millennial generation. “They work differently than Baby Boomers,” Shields said. “They’re not comfortable in a 6 x 8 work space with high walls.” That is leading to more open office arrangements that allow for interaction and collaboration. Another popular variation is the sit-and-stand desk that can be repositioned for working from a chair or while standing.

Dr. Rick Franza, Dean of Hull College of Business at AU told the B2B crowd that he hopes to develop a Health Care Management Programs and Professional Selling courses in the future. Photo by Melissa Gordon

“They’ve done research that if you stand more, you feel better at the end of the day,” Baxley said. Other popular office items are desk lamps with adjustable lighting options and ergonomic chairs. Robert Kelly and Isaac Kelly, Augusta Staffing Retention of key employees was a theme that arose throughout the day. The Kelly brothers spoke about the need to design a deliberate employee experience that is comprehensive from recruitment to retirement. Recruitment starts with creating a video for the company’s website, showing what it’s like to work there and why an applicant would want to apply there. Isaac Kelly said that job application forms need to be placed online and even on Snapchat when recruiting the Millennial generation. “Millennials don’t want to call your office to apply,” he said. “The times are

changing and we’ve got to change with them. Being mobile-friendly is key to the application process.” In creating an employee experience, they urged thinking about your company like you’re a customer to find what you really need in employees. “The customer experience is forever tied to the employee experience,” Isaac Kelly said. “The employee is as important as the customer.” Mike and Wendy Perry, Catalyst Executive Advising & Consulting The couple spoke about the best ways to resolve conflicts in the work place. “Conflict cannot be avoided,” Wendy Perry said. “But not all conflict is bad. It can be used to motivate and elevate your employees.” Statistics show that about 85 percent of employees experience some conflict at work, and 30 percent feel it every day. When handled correctly, the consequence is that the organization does better. When

handled incorrectly, people get bogged down and focus merely on survival. But ignoring it and hoping it’ll get better is never an option. “You’d never see a small fire in your kitchen and think, maybe if I just wait that grease fire will go out,” Mike Perry said. Being real about the issues, creating a safe environment for employees to talk about it, seeking to understand and finding agreement are all critical to turning conflict from a negative to a positive in a business. Dr. Rick Franza, Dean, Hull College of Business at Augusta University Franza showed how the ideas of business education are changing, particularly in trying to incorporate input from the business world. He said the change involves seeing the business world as the customer and the students as the product to meet their needs. At the same time, that also helps the students because they’ll be better prepared for success in the business world. “We want to be at the intersection of academia and practice,” he said. “We want to have the pulse of the business community at all times. We want business to be ever-present in our classrooms and programs.” He noted that business is not just about business anymore. Augusta’s thriving health care industry underlines that need. “This is a health care mecca and we have no program in health care management,” Franza said. Providing a degree in health care management is a goal for the future, as well as in technology management and manufacturing and logistics management. Franza said Hull College also wants to provide continuing education for people See SPEAKERS on Page 50

803-335-8092 | | 28 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


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Handling the books for a business can be scary. Turning them over to a big accounting firm can be intimidating. It can be a huge relief, then, to discover Matthews & Mayo Certified Public Accountants and Business Consultants. The accounting firm is large

enough to bring their experienced team of specialists to expertly handle any and all tax and accounting needs, while providing personal, friendly service in full partnership with their clients. “It’s about serving someone who may not fully understand that they need

professional services,” says Lisa Mayo, CPA/CVA, shareholder of Matthews & Mayo CPAs. “I love helping people get where they’re going – by helping plan their path to success.” That help is often provided after the business owner tries to handle payroll and taxes on their own, and then realizes managing the numbers can consume far too much of their valuable time. Time that is better spent running the business. “The success of our clients is our primary goal,” says Mayo. “Most want to do it themselves so that they can save money,” Mayo says. “Some learn quickly that they really don’t want to do accounting and that they should focus on managing the operations of the business.’” No matter the stage in which clients comes to Matthews & Mayo CPAs, they will find a dedicated partner in growing their business through a trusting, personal and professional relationship. “I want all clients, whether a business or an individual, to know they have access to me year-round,” Mayo says. Fees for all services are transparent from the beginning, so customers are comfortable calling with questions. “This transparency creates a relationship where all of our clients know they can

call without any hidden fees. Our clients are comfortable calling with small questions rather than letting them grown into bigger problems.” says Mayo. In fact, Mayo says one of her most gratifying testimonials came from a client who said, “You never make me feel dumb - you never make me feel like I’m asking the wrong questions. You’re willing to teach me; you help me learn more and want to understand it better, so that I can effectively manage my business.” That, Mayo says, is a great example of the type of relationship Matthews & Mayo CPAs builds with its customers. “You’re going to know we are taking your best interest at heart,” she adds. To learn how Matthews & Mayo can serve your business with accounting services or as business consultants, contact them below.

Matthews & Mayo 3540 Wheeler Road, Ste. 616 or call Lisa Mayo at


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Burritos with a twist in a friendly atmosphere

By Gary Kauffman If you think of a burrito as only a Mexican taste treat, Twisted Burrito is about to change your mind. The flavors of burritos there are, well, twisted from what you normally think – unique tastes with unique names. Take the Jackie Chan Burrito, for instance, made with smoked chicken, white rice, Asian slaw, crispy wontons, chow mein noodles and sweet sesame Asian dressing. Or the Bob Marley, with jerk chicken, saffron rice, black beans, tomato pineapple bruschetta, mixed cheese, crispy tortilla strips and a chipotle mango aioli. Or The Goodfella, featuring smoked chicken, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese sticks, sundried tomato bruschetta and shredded mozzarella, topped with marinara. There are 11 burritos like these, plus a weekly special. It’s like fine restaurant fare that just happens to be rolled in a tortilla. Twisted Burrito is the brainchild of two local residents, Steve Fredericks and Jason Beall. Both have many years in the food service business, including 15 years at Applebee’s, but wanted to do their own thing. They’d originally planned a burger joint, but then a Super Bowl party opened a new way of thinking. “We did a Super Bowl party one night and we made burritos,” Fredericks said. “Everybody loved them, so we decided to try it. But we wanted to think outside the box. There’s a Mexican restaurant on about every corner in town.” The co-owners opened Twisted Burrito two years ago in Evans, in the strip mall behind Sonic, across from Walmart. Three months ago they opened a second location on Jimmie Dyess Parkway, near Fort Gordon. Outside of the word burrito, there’s virtually nothing about Twisted Burrito that resembles a Mexican restaurant. There’s no chips or salsa, the décor is stylish hodge-podge and the music ranges through a variety of styles. Unlike some burrito places, there is no buildit-yourself cafeteria-style line. Patrons are seated and the burritos are delivered to the table by servers, fully made. “That way we can mix all the ingredients and it’s consistent, bite for bite,” Fredericks said.

34 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

Twisted Burrito co-owners Steve Fredericks and Jason Beall at a catering event. Photo by Melissa Gordon

It works, because so far Twisted Burrito has earned a 4.9 rating on Facebook, and recently was voted Best Burrito in Augusta for the second year in a row. But there is more than just burritos to draw customers. Burritos are served with Twisted Burrito’s own Georgia Fries – French fries smothered in a zesty combination of sweet and spicy seasonings developed by Fredericks and Beall. Salads are also available, with such names as Bruce Lee, Josie Wales and Strawberry Fields, plus appetizers and desserts. Craft beers, especially the locally brewed ones, are part of the offerings. The Jimmie Dyess location has 12 craft beers on tap. Customers get plenty to eat. Burritos average a pound or more each – unless you upsize it to The Big Rig proportions. At that size, the burrito is 14 inches long and can exceed three pounds of food. “You’d be amazed at the number of people who finish them,” Fredericks said. Twisted Burrito strives to be about more than just the food, though. It tries to create an atmosphere that makes people feel welcome. “I know it’s cliché, but we want that hometown feel where everybody knows your name,” Fredericks said. “We wanted to bring the downtown feel to Evans.” That includes great service and plenty of interaction from the owners and the wait staff.

Between its two locations, Twisted Burrito employs 50-55 people. “I try to talk to every table during lunch,” Fredericks said. “We have one of the friendliest staffs in town because people like working here. If the staff is happy, the guests are happy.” The staff also helps develop new burrito tastes, and serves as the taste testers when Fredericks comes up with a new combination to offer as a special. “It’s kind of a team decision,” he said. “I’ll make it in the morning as a special and if they tell me it’s not good, we don’t serve it.” He added, with a laugh, “We’ve had many unsuccessful burritos.” Twisted Burrito also offers catering, and not just burritos. They specialize in catering barbecue and chicken wings. “But we’re very diverse,” Fredericks said. “If you want Italian, just tell me a day ahead and I’ll make you the best lasagna you’ve had.” That kind of creativity is what spurred Fredericks and Beall to start their own business. “We wanted the freedom to be creative,” Fredericks said. “Every day we can make something different if we want to.” It’s that creativity, that “twisted” way of thinking, that has made Twisted Burrito a favorite hangout for many people in the CSRA. Twisted Burrito is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday.

October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz



By Barry L. Paschal Few things in the workplace can be as awkward or feel as risky as the conversations that must follow mistakes, shortcomings, or unmet expectations. Hoping problems solve themselves, or ignoring counterproductive behavior, isn’t a reasonable long-term strategy. Michael and Wendy Perry, owners of

Catalyst Executive Advising and Development, provided guidance for those facing such tough workplace issues in their entertaining and informative B2B Expo presentation, “Actively Navigating Employer/Employee Conflicts.” But that’s just a sample of the transformational services Catalyst offers. Their wide-ranging, customized train-


ing for leaders in businesses of all sizes can provide assistance for traveling through many other workplace roadblocks preventing otherwise successful enterprises from reaching their greater potential. “What we want business leaders to understand is that our goal is to create places where their employees want to work,” says Michael Perry, Ph.D., President and Chief Operating Officer of Catalyst. “People desire a connection, with room to grow and the potential to excel,” he adds, noting that Catalyst can guide an organization’s leadership toward cultural improvements that provide those vital employee connections. It’s not always easy - particularly in a business that might be reluctant to face the need for change. “Success can be a barrier,” Perry points out. “If you believe what happened in the past worked, you’re going to keep doing it” - and likely continue hitting the same walls. That’s where Catalyst can help. Since its founding two years ago by Perry and his wife, Chief Executive Officer Wendy Perry, the dynamic Catalyst duo have leveraged their combined 42 years of service in the U.S. Army with Michael’s experience as a clinical

psychologist and Wendy’s expertise in the healthcare industry to provide an extensive suite of leadership coaching, consulting and training services. As a team, their extensive military experience can be especially helpful to veterans transitioning to private employment - but it’s also helpful for employers to learn how best to smoothly integrate those focused, skilled workers into their businesses. In addition, Michael’s foundation in human performance fuels his passion for helping leaders to deliver meaningful change, while Wendy is driven to empower and equip women for taking on greater leadership roles. Together, Catalyst provides valuable guidance for leaders ready to move their companies toward reaching their organizational vision - as Wendy reiterates, “in places where people want to work, with leaders they want to work for.”

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36 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017


Expo Lunch SponSor

Kathryn Lovingood, Catering Manager

Chicken Salad Chick just might be the perfect office lunch: Everyone is sure to love it, the pricing is affordable, and employees won’t be nodding off from an afternoon heavy-food coma. With 12 delicious varieties of chicken salad available, Chicken Salad Chick’s catered meals are delivered with smile and set up by their catering staff so the office workers can relax and enjoy lunch. “Everything we serve is made inhouse - everything is fresh,” says Gigi Obando, General Manager of Chicken Salad Chick’s Augusta location. “We’ve been very popular with catering since we’ve been open - especially the ladies; they love their chicken salad - and the guys are always welcome!” Varieties range from the original and most popular Classic Carol, with Fancy Nancy - featuring Fuji apples, pecans, and seedless grapes - coming in second. Other creations range from mild Olivia’s Old South, a South-

Proud Winner of

ern tradition favorite, combining sweet pickles and eggs, to the bold Kickin’ Kay Lynne, fired up with buffalo sauce, bacon, ranch,jalapenos and Sriracha perfect for tailgating. Complementing the chicken salad are a variety of gourmet soups, fresh green salads, popular catering sides include broccoli salad, grape salad, and pasta salad. -Plus delectable buttercream-frosted cookies and strawberry platters for a sweet finish. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are abundant, too. And it’s all available with a phone call or the click of a mouse and Obando says while they prefer 24 hours’ notice on catering orders, particularly for larger groups, “we’re experts on last-minute catering.” Forgot to order for the office lunch? They’ll even deliver that same-day order if a time slot is available. Ordering is easy at After completing the order,

you’ll get an email confirmation - and the Chicken Salad Chick catering staff will follow up with a phone call. “We want to make it personalized for your needs,” Obando says. The $100 minimum order, plus $25 delivery fee, will easily feed 10-12 people with platters of chicken salad sandwiches on buttery croissants. Each delivered catering order includes all of the plates, flatware, napkins, ice - the works - and is set up by Chicken Salad Chick’s friendly catering staff. “That’s something we’re very proud of,” Obando says. “We set everything up so it’s really pretty like our restaurant.” The Augusta area’s first Chicken Salad Chick is at 2817 Washington Road, near Alexander Drive, with a second location coming soon in Evans to expand their already large delivery area. To conveniently place an order for pickup or delivery, go to, or call 706-729-6556

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MORNINGSIDE OF EVANS HELPS FAMILIES AND BUSINESS LEADERS It’s often a tough decision: Leaving the comfort and familiarity of home to make the transition to a senior living community. At Morningside of Evans, they understand the anxiety - both from the new resident, and from their families who often are the ones deciding on the need for a greater level of care. “When a family comes in to Morningside, I’m the person they talk to and I have an opportunity to build a rapport with them fairly quickly, says Kellie Pugh, Executive Director at Morningside. “We’re very open, we’re very sensitive, we’re very caring, we’re very understanding of what the family member is going through.” Morningside helps ease any uncertainties by inviting the families to lunch - no strings attached. “We’re just going to sit and chit-chat,” Pugh says. “We’ll get to know them, they’ll get to know us, and they’ll get a feel for what this community is like.” The new resident also will have an opportunity to sample the food prepared by Morningside’s professionally trained chef, with three meals and snacks served restaurant-style to the residents daily. “The food is really good,” Pugh says, adding that a committee of

bers, it’s not just about the resident - it’s about their families, too.” The move to Morningside then becomes the easiest part. “The majority of residents, after a couple of days of being here, it’s like they’ve been here forever,” Pugh says. “They find their comfort zone very quickly, they get acclimated, they meet the other residents and get involved with the daily activities. It’s wonderful.” Businesses hoping to become one of the many vendors serving the Morningside community also undergo a stringent vetting process to make sure they’re a good fit. “I’m extremely protective of our residents,” Pugh says.

residents provides monthly input on the menus, all of which are designed by a professional dietician. As families are choosing one of the 40 spacious suites at the Morningside community, the new resident will undergo a comprehensive assessment by

Morningside’s attentive staff. “We want to make sure we’re able to provide for whatever their needs are, and that the resident would be appropriate for this type of setting,” Pugh says. “I make sure I understand what their specific needs are, and I always tell the family mem-

To learn more about Morningside of Evans, call Kellie Pugh at

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


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40 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017


For Signarama Augusta, trade shows are a major key to their business and that is why the Buzz on Biz B2B Expo came at an exceptionally great time. Trade shows give Signarama the opportunity to help businesses by providing marketing, branding and promotional products to help build top of mind awareness, visibility, and an

individuals, “For the most part what we ucts. We get really creative to help our do is commercial,” says Heath Bradham, customers standout,” Bradham says. “If franchise owner of Signarama. “We someone comes in with a project that’s work closely with businesses to create completely unheard of, we have the netoutstanding branding that fits exactly work, the creativity, and state of the art with their specific goals, and we strive technology to solve the problem and get for partnerships with our customers. the job done!” Solving problems is his Many of our customers are new busifavorite part of the business, he adds. ness owners and we are always glad to Customers enjoy the sage advice they help them by referring them to others in get when setting up their presentation our local network of businesses, people for trade shows. that we have met along the way that can help out with other services that they may need as well as promote their business with our social media. We love helping people where ever we can.” Signarama Augusta is nimble and part of a substantial network which gives them a unique ability and access to the latest technology and techniques. Bradham 706-941-8610 If you would like• to learn more “One of the things that drew me to Sig- Heath visit Signarama today, they are narama was its large network” Bradham conveniently located in Augusta says, which gives him access to extensive expertise, capacity and creativity. “I on the second level of Fury’s Ferry Why pay more to print? ever growing customer base. By having can handle the large signs, pens, busiStation, near Riverwatch Parkway, at Signarama create high visibility trade ness cards and everything in-between. 231 Fury’s Ferry Road, show materials like popup banners, Anything your business name can go tablecloths and personalized giveaway Ste. 206B on, we can make it happen with excepitems, businesses find that it is easier to tion of tattoos.” “If you can dream it, attract new customers and create more Call Us or Visit Our Website we can do it; the ideas are limitless. We success. And while Signarama happily are a one-stop shop for our customprovides plenty of signs, canvas prints, ers with our broad spectrum of vehicle wraps and other products for

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Tip of the Top Hat Non-qualified Executive Benefit Plans Help Retain Top Talent BY KURT MUELLER

To attract and retain top executive talent, many employers supplement their benefit packages with non-qualified executive benefit plans. A non-qualified plan may not be bound by many of the restrictions imposed on qualified plans, such as the requirements to include all eligible employees. Nonqualified plans are not subject to most of the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. To avoid falling within the requirements of ERISA, some non-qualified plans must meet the definition of a “tophat” plan, which provides deferred compensation for a select group of management or highly compensated employees. Although the types of plans described in this article generally meet this test, be sure to consult your tax specialist, a tax attorney or employee benefit specialist before selecting the plan that works best for your company. Executive Bonus Plans Executive Bonus Plans are among the simplest plans to implement and administer. The company pays the executive a bonus that will be considered as taxable income to the executive. If the bonus is considered to be reasonable compensation, then the company may take an income tax deduction for the bonus paid to the executive. The bonus may be used to pay premiums on a permanent life insurance policy with cash value. The executive owns the life insurance policy, and therefore owns the policy’s cash value. He or she is free to use the cash value of the policy, unless the company adds a restrictive endorsement to the plan. These plans can help to ensure the executive’s loyalty to the company, since many employees consider the provision that the employer pay the premiums to be a valuable benefit. If the employee leaves the company, he or she can always pay the premiums out of pocket. Some employers, however, add a “golden handcuff ” to this type of plan in the form of a “restrictive endorsement,” which requires that the employee obtain employer permission to access the cash value. Split-Dollar Plans One drawback of Executive Bonus Plans is their relatively high cost to the employer, which is equal to the cost of a cash bonus plus any additional bonus that may be paid to the employee to cover income taxes due. A Split-Dollar Plan can

create similar advantages at a lower cost to the employer. With these plans, the company and executive agree to split the benefits of the employee’s life insurance policy. Because the company may recover its cash outlays later (when the executive dies or retires) from the policy’s cash value, the company’s cost is generally limited to the “time value of money” on premiums advanced. Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation There are three basic types of NQDC plans. 401(k) Mirror Plans In a “401(k) Mirror Plan,” the executive may voluntarily defer a portion of their salary in an amount greater than allowed under regular 401(k) rules, and the company may contribute to the plan as well. Salary Reduction/Deferral Plans With a Salary Reduction/Deferral Plan, the executive defers their own salary to fund the plan. The salary amounts deferred are not currently taxable to the executive, but will become taxable at retirement to the executive – and, at the same time, deductible by the business. Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans A SERP is a type of NQDC Plan in which the company makes an unsecured

42 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

promise to pay a future benefit, based on agreement and executive performance. While the employee is working for the company, he/she may not take a distribution from the SERP; it is only after retirement or some designated event under the plan that the employee may start to take distributions. In most cases, for all three variations of NQDC, any informal funding by the employer is tied to the company’s general assets – which are not shielded from creditors. In some cases, these assets are placed in a “rabbi trust,” a type of trust that defers the taxability of the plan’s benefits. A rabbi trust provides plan participants with some security because assets can’t be touched by the company or a future acquirer, although they can be tapped by creditors in the event of the company’s insolvency or other creditor action. Executive benefit plans demonstrate the owner’s commitment to the future and evidence of the company’s desire to have its most valuable people be part of it. Rewarding key people can also be a preliminary step in identifying a successor owner – which can potentially help the company survive the unexpected loss of the current owner, while creating the liquidity needed for successors to ulti-

mately buy out the owner’s interest, thus ensuring the continuity of the firm for years to come. Prepared by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. This material is intended for general public use. By providing this material, we are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any specific individual or situation, or to otherwise act in a fiduciary capacity. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents or employees do not give tax or legal advice.

Kurt Mueller is an independent financial advisor for the Consolidated Planning Group and worked on preparation of this article with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. The information contained in this article is for general, informational purposes only. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents or employees do not give tax or legal advice. You should consult your tax or legal advisor regarding your individual situation. To make an appointment with Kurt—call 803.671.8792 or email

NEW VISION. NEW COMPANY. SAME OL’ KURT Financial Advisor Kurt Mueller’s joined Consolidated Planning team of more than 100 advisors managing more than $1.4 Billion in assets and more than $6.5 Billion in Insurance Protection. He’s opened an office in Evans and Aiken to serve his existing clients and to welcome you to learn about his plan—all part of Consolidated Planning’s wealth of knowledge and upgraded service.

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


46 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017




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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Being Different Christians in Workplace Can Offset a Culture Gone Wild BY GARY KAUFFMAN

The national media is all abuzz (at least at the time I wrote this) about the revelation that movie producer Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator. I’d never heard of the man, but it seems he has a long, sordid history of trying to get young starlets alone and sexually harassing them at best and raping them at worst. Hollywood is aghast that their culture that has brought us such demure films as 50 Shades of Grey, Showgirls and, well, just about anything made since the 1970s, could harbor people who are obsessed with sex. (Remember, these are the same people who also ridiculed Vice President Mike Pence for steadfastly refusing to be alone with a woman other than his wife so that there wouldn’t even be the hint of impropriety.) At the same time, this has created a wave on Facebook of women posting #metoo, calling attention to the fact they, too, have experienced sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. The posts don’t give any details, so I’m not sure of the exact definition of what is considered harassment, but there’s no doubt that it happens far too often. In a culture like ours that has become obsessed with sex (thanks in no small part to Weinstein and his ilk in Hollywood), it’s not surprising that this kind of harassment happens, even in the workplace. And with culture’s empowering of women, it even happens increasingly in reverse – women saying or doing things to men that, if the roles were reversed, would be considered harassment. I know; I’ve experienced it myself. So, as Christians, what can we do to stem this problem in the workplace? After all, we are called to be different from the culture. First of all, Christian men need to set the example with how they treat everyone in the workplace, but especially women. How they treat their female co-workers with respect and dignity will go a long way in setting the tone for the workplace, especially if they are people in charge. As much as possible, they should follow the example of Pence and limit the amount of time they spend alone with a female co-worker (likewise, Christian women should also limit alone time with male co-workers). Inappropriate conduct and affairs do not happen with a giant leap but with many small steps. It’s much easier to avoid if the first step is never taken.

Men also need to call out other men who act or talk inappropriately toward female co-workers. This shouldn’t be a public display (unless it is so egregious that it needs to be), but a private conversation. Sometimes our culture has numbed people to the point that they no longer recognize what is appropriate or inappropriate, and need to have it pointed out. Actress Mayim Bialik created controversy when she suggested dressing modestly to avoid attracting sexual predators in Hollywood. Critics felt her comments made it seem as if the victims were responsible for what happened to them. But dressing appropriately for the environment makes sense. If you’re going outside in a snowstorm, you’re better protected in a coat and gloves than a T-shirt and shorts; if you’re walking through an area infested with poisonous snakes, it’s wiser to wear knee-high leather boots than sandals. On page 12, columnist Liz Klebba writes about what our choice of clothes says about us. Again, as Christians, we’re called to be different than the culture. Dressing appropriately can help set a positive tone for the workplace. Both Christian men and women who are married should wear their wedding rings and avoid any hint of flirting. No matter how innocent, flirting can be misconstrued as an invitation to something more. If you are a victim of an inappropriate remark or email or other harassment, try first to address it with the person who offended you. As I said earlier, sometimes people have been so numbed by our culture that they say something that has a completely different meaning than they intended. If that doesn’t work, follow the chain of command to try to rectify the situation. In the meantime, as much as possible, remove yourself from that person or situation. If nothing seems to help, if the workplace culture has become so toxic that no one will correct the situation, you would be wise to find another job. It seems awfully unfair that we have to change our behavior and actions, and possibly even our job situation, for something that isn’t our fault. It is unfair, actually. But Christians were never promised that life would be fair. In fact, Jesus promised exactly the opposite. In Matt. 5:10-11, he said that we would be persecuted and accused unfairly because of our commitment to him. He reiterates that in John 16:33, when he

48 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

said that we would have many troubles in this world – a world that contains far too many Harvey Weinsteins and sexual obsession. But Jesus added a promise in John 16:33 for all of us of faith in these situations – he said we can have courage because he has overcome the world. He also called us to be salt and light in the world – setting an example of the right way to live. These situations give us the perfect opportunity to put that into practice, to show that there is a far better way to live than the example current culture gives.

Gary Kauffman of North Augusta is a freelance writer and product photographer and is studying to become a Christian life coach. Contact him at or 803-341-5830.

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tion before ever graduating from GMC because of his tenacity to be a problem-solver. Patrick said, “Any time you are able to integrate what you are learning as a professional, information sinks in much faster. I wasn’t just learning theory at GMC.” When asked what advice he would offer to anyone considering Georgia Military College, Patrick said, “Earning a degree was important to me because nobody could take that away from me. Have faith in GMC. This is the real deal.”


On Sept. 24, Georgia Military College’s Augusta campus made history with our first Bachelor of Applied Science degree graduate. We are proud of Patrick Fackler, who said he is both humbled to be the first graduate and thankful to have completed his degree at Georgia Military College. Historically, Georgia Military College has been known as a transfer institution, where students complete an associate degree in one of many field choices, then transfer to a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree. GMC’s slogan has been, “Start Here. Go Anywhere.” However, a couple of years ago, Gov. Nathan Deal approved GMC to begin offering the Bachelor of Applied Science degree, designed specifically to prepare students for career advancement opportunities and supervisory and management roles in their technical or occupational field. The Augusta campus offers the BAS in Business Management, BAS in Supervision and Management and BAS in Supply Chain Management and Logistics. Like many working adults, Patrick started his college career many years ago at Gainesville State University. After not achieving the grades his parents expected, he ended up back in Augusta. Patrick eventually found his way to Augusta Technical College, where he pursued an Associate of Applied Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. During the internship required by Augusta Tech, he

landed a job at Textron and has been working there since then. Just a year out of Augusta Tech, he began searching for a nonprofit college that would best suit his desire to move into a leadership role at Textron. That search led him to Georgia Military College. Patrick proved himself to not only be a fantastic student with a high GPA, but also a great employee, applying what he was learning in classes to projects at work. He earned a promotion to operations leader of fabrica-

Missie Usry is the Enrollment Manager and advises the Community Involvement Club at Georgia Military College’s Augusta campus. 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. For questions, call 706.993.1123 or visit

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Investing in Employees

Retaining Key Employees is Important to Business Success

someone to replace a key employee, it can also hurt a company’s bottom line if that key employee goes to a competitor. That employee knows all of your company’s strategies, helping his new boss formulate

ways to take business away from you, and he may even take clients with him to the new company. “When you get those people you need to hang on to them,” Mueller said, “be-

cause your competition is trying to get them. And they’ll do that by giving them a dollar or two more an hour.” That’s why it’s important to create incentives to retain their services. However, what many businesses consider to be incentives – cash bonuses, 401(k) match, health and disability insurance – are no different than most companies offer. Many businesses say they care about their employees but to retain them, there has to be action that shows how much you care. “The best retention plans provide a substantial economic benefit,” Mueller said. “They have some meat on the bone. They’re meaningful to that key employee.” That may mean thinking outside the box and knowing what motivates that key employee. “Build a strong relationship with your employees,” Mueller said. “Know what they’re going through. I’m not saying you have to be Dr. Phil but talk to them.” The best incentive plans shape employee behavior, but they’re good for the business owner as well. One big benefit to the business owner in retaining key employees is that it increases the value of the business to a potential buyer. “A business is harder to sell without key employees,” Mueller said.

Brian Ellefson and Nyles Ellefson, Ellefson Transportation Group Ellefson is celebrating its 50th year in business. The brothers, who now run the business, said working in a family business allows them to have more control of the business’ destiny, but they also believe it creates a more open, family atmosphere for their employees. Asked about the opportunities for nonfamily employees to advance in a family business, Brian Ellefson said the longevity of employees there, which averages 8-12 years, speaks to that. “When I’m asked about the opportunity for advancement, I refer them to the employees themselves,” he said. “They stay with you for a reason.” He said a big reason they’ve been successful at running the family business as a team is a clear division in responsibilities – Nyles runs the operational side of the business while Brian takes care of the financials and sales. “But we always see the same goals,” Nyles Ellefson said. “We always keep that

in mind.” Kurt Mueller, Consolidated Planning See separate story on this page Amy Kilpatrick, Nspired Business Solutions Networking is a key business strategy, but Kilpatrick said it involves more than just a handshake at a business event. It is about creating strategic alliances with other businesses to drive business to each other. That process, though, starts with a good look in the mirror. “Stop and think: what do I want people to see when they see me?” Kilpatrick said. “If you don’t come in caring how you look, with a big smile and a positive attitude, throwing out that you’re miserable, guess what people see.” A good look at how you present your company is also critical, because often stated goals and what’s shown on websites and social media don’t match. Kilpatrick said businesses need to know what their ideal product or service is and who their ideal client is for that product or service.

“What is the problem they have that you are the solution to?” Kilpatrick said. “Without identifying that you have the solution, they have no reason to pay you.” All of those are important to a strategic alliance with another business. That business person has to know what you offer and the type of client you’re looking for because when they refer clients, they’re not selling the product for you but your ability to provide a solution for their needs. “An introduction is the action you’re looking for,” Kilpatrick said. “Give someone an action they can implement easily on your behalf. Most people fail to succeed because they fail to have a call to action.” Forming strategic alliances with likeminded businesses opens up new opportunities for new customers, but also helps current business by helping your clients find the services they need from people you trust. It becomes a mutual benefit. “You’ll be part of my success story and I’ll be part of yours,” Kilpatrick said.


Passion oozed from Kurt Mueller during his presentation about retaining key employees, digressing at times into the need for strong financial planning for the future. “I hold people accountable,” he said. “I’m their quarterback; that’s my job.” He said he can offer no investment product that produces results like a business. “Every business owner I work with gets their best rate of return from their business, not the stock market,” he said. Since most business owners treat their business as a retirement plan, getting the most out of it when retiring is essential. Essential in that process is retaining key employees. “Key employees set the tone for your culture,” Mueller said. Those key employees play an important role with all other employees, so Mueller said it is important to have them buy into your vision for the company. “By getting your second lieutenant to buy into your vision, it trickles down,” he said. “You’re only as good as your worst employee.” Since those key employees are so valuable, they can be costly to replace. Not only does it cost to hire and train

A crowd of more than 150 were held accountable by Financial Advisor Kurt Mueller of Consolidated Planning. Photo by Melissa Gordon

Speakers Continued from page 28 like doctors or computer techs who have been moved into management positions. “We want to get into providing management acumen to technical people,” he said. Davis Beman, Blanchard & Calhoun Real Estate Investing in real estate, either for a business of their own or as another income stream, is an attractive option for many business owners. Beman gave some insights into how to invest wisely. “Be focused on your goals,” he said. A key to being successful, he said, is to leverage resources – forming a team of agents, lawyers, bankers and others who can give the best advice on each situation. Because real estate agents know the market, they can save an investor time and money in choosing the right properties. That leads to investing wisely. He also spoke of the need to protect your assets and creating an exit strategy to sell the property.

50 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


Making a New Plan Auditing Dependents on Health Plan Could Save Money This column was originally printed it the May 2016 edition


Is it time to audit the dependents on your plan? There are a number of reasons for health plan sponsors to implement a dependent eligibility audit. Employers can lower health plan costs by identifying and removing ineligible dependents from coverage. An employer will also meet its legal obligation to follow the terms of the plan by enforcing the plan’s eligibility requirements. In addition, a dependent eligibility audit promotes fairness in the workplace by restricting health coverage to those dependents that are actually eligible. To implement a successful dependent eligibility audit, an employer should address the following issues: Set the Scope of the Audit • Determine which benefit plans will be covered by the dependent eligibility audit. Typically, an audit might include medical, dental and vision coverage. One important factor to remember is the change in rules for dependent children, based on the health care reform law. For all plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010, children can be considered dependents until age 26. This includes both married and unmarried children, and student status is not required. • Decide how and when the audit will be conducted, including whether to administer the audit in-house or hire an independent audit firm. Some audits are scheduled to coincide with open enrollment dates to minimize the administrative task of disenrolling plan members. • Decide upon a dependent verification method. The sign-off method requires employees to complete a questionnaire

confirming each dependent’s eligibility. Because this method does not require supporting documentation, it typically does not provide the best results. The documentation method requires employees to submit documents confirming each dependent’s eligibility. This method requires more effort, but provides better results than the sign-off method. Structure the Steps of the Audit Typically, audits have two steps: • A period of amnesty when employees can voluntarily remove ineligible dependents without any penalties. • The verification process when all employees must submit documents confirming each dependent’s eligibility. Enrolled

individuals not confirmed as eligible dependents are disenrolled, and the employee may face penalties. Share Information About the Audit Communication with employees is essential to the success of the audit. • Notify employees in advance of the dependent eligibility audit so they can watch for important information about the audit. • Inform employees about the amnesty period for removing ineligible dependents from coverage and any penalties that may apply to ineligible dependents after the end of the amnesty period. • Notify employees about the dependent verification documents that must be sub-

mitted for dependents who remain covered after the amnesty period is over. Detail the required documents for each category of eligible dependents (for example, spouse, natural children, adopted children, step-children and foster children). In all employee communications, stress that the purpose of the audit is to help control costs by removing ineligible dependents from coverage, and to promote fairness by covering only those dependents that are actually eligible for coverage. Address Dependent Verification Going Forward Address how dependent status will be monitored going forward. This could include tightening up documentation requirements when new dependents are enrolled for coverage and/or performing audits periodically for new dependents. Plan documents, including SPDs, should be updated to reflect the process that will be followed in determining dependent eligibility going forward. To be successful, a dependent eligibility audit requires careful planning and preparation. If an employer takes the time to carefully structure the audit on the front end, the audit process will generally proceed more smoothly and will be more successful from both a cost savings and an employee relations perspective. Russell T. Head is CEO with Head Capital Advisors, an Acrisure agency partner and Augusta’s largest employee benefits brokerage. Call 706.733.3459.

Downtown building to get three new tenants BY WITT WELLS

The building located at 972 Broad St., next to Stillwater Taproom, has been vacant for decades. But it will soon house three companies setting up Augusta offices downtown. Milestone Construction, technology and cyber recruiting agency Loop Recruitment and real estate developer 3D Development will all move into the building when it reaches completion, which is projected to be in early 2019. Milestone Construction is in the unique situation of building its future home in the historic Broad Street building, which is currently condemned.

“Moving downtown will give us a chance to be at the heart of something special in our city, and downtown’s upward trend is something we are very excited about,” said Miles Dunstan, coowner of Milestone Construction. Leaders of the businesses say Historic Augusta, a group that preserves historically and architecturally significant buildings in Augusta, is helping with the project, too. “It was important to us to be close to our strategic partners, and to be actively involved in the resurgence of downtown,” said Charlie Wall, director of business development at Loop Recruiting. “We think we are well-positioned to partner

52 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

with energetic, technology-driven companies in the area.” Wall is excited to move downtown, where a slew of businesses, including TaxSlayer, Wier/Stewart, Merrill Lynch and others, not to mention a growing number of restaurants and bars, have set up their home bases. “Loop is a crucial contributor to our company’s growth, leading multiple successful searches for executive-level talent,” said Brian Rhodes, CEO of TaxSlayer. “I look forward to the continued development of our business partnership as they make their move downtown.” The four-story building was built more than a century ago to be the tallest store

in the downtown. It was built for the E.M. Andrews Furniture Co. and later operated as Bee Hive, a children’s clothing store, until 1979. According to the Augusta Chronicle, all three companies will share the second floor. The ground floor may be rented out as an office space, or utilized as a shared space. Use of the top two floors hasn’t yet been decided. The renovation, which will top $1 million when the cost of acquiring the real estate is included, should begin early next year and be completed by January 2019. The three companies will have about 30 employees combined.

New Stores Could Make Grocery Shopping Fun for Millennials By Witt Wells

I don’t like grocery shopping. I never have. When I was in elementary school, my family was one of those that shopped at the local Wild Oats, before it was converted into a Whole Foods. The organic food trend had just started to pick up steam around that time, but it certainly wasn’t cool for 5th graders. I longed for a consistent supply of Cheetos. I rarely found them in my lunchbox. By the time I was in high school, my parents decided that organics were hurting their bank account more than they were helping our stomachs; they could find food healthy enough at standard supermarkets. My dad locked in on Kroger’s discounted store brand products and hasn’t looked back to this day. I, on the other hand, could never get over the feeling that shopping in a big

grocery store was a colossal pain. For my dad, it’s a routine in which I think he finds comfort. For me, it is the opposite. In a frantic effort to get out of the store as soon as possible, I lose focus, zone out, and commence a pattern of speed-walking from one end of the store to the other end, back and forth, over and over. I suppose I should be more organized like my dad. For me, this has resulted in a steady diet of Chick-fil-A and grilled chicken salads from Zaxby’s. I know I can’t go on like this forever. But an increasing avoidance of grocery stores isn’t particularly odd for people of my generation. Research has shown that young adults are opting for restaurants more than previous generations, although their parents and grandparents are starting to develop similar habits themselves. So I could just say that I’m a product of my environment. What’s funny is that

grocers throughout the country have responded to people’s rapidly changing eating and shopping habits in remarkably innovative ways. (See my report on this trend on pages 24-25.) For example, Lidl just opened a store in September around the corner from my house in National Hills. My friend Daniel told me it was a must-see, so we took a trip to the new Germany-based chain grocer that just opened two stores in the CSRA. We ate 50-cent cookies from the bakery, one of Lidl’s trademarks. I tried Icelandic yogurt for the first time. We walked around and laughed at the comically literal names on the packages of some of the store brand items that have made Lidl successful. What will it be? A “Snickers”? Or a “Mini Bar With Roasted Peanuts Caramel And Nougat With Milk Chocolate And Vegetable Fat Coating” for half the price?

For the first time in a while, I had fun in a grocery store. Fortunately, Lidl isn’t the only local grocer on a mission to improve the experience of shoppers in the CSRA. Others are doing the same, and you can read all about it in our October issue. I’m not saying I’ve converted to grocery shopping. The next time I go to Publix, it will still be because I’m ordering a sub. But I’ll probably take a look around while I’m waiting. Witt Wells is a Memphis-born writer with a love for comedy, the written word and the outdoors. He lives in Augusta, where he reports on business news in the CSRA. Contact him at


By Barry L. Paschal Just about everyone needs service on their car, but finding the right shop can be a source of anxiety. In fact, a survey by AAA found that two-thirds of consumers distrust auto repair shops in general - fearing that the work will be done wrong, or that they’ll be pushed into unnecessary and expensive repairs. That’s why the family atmosphere at

Robbie’s Automotive Service Center is so reassuring. Customers are kept fully informed, know they’re treated fairly, and are in charge of all decisions about their vehicles. There’s no pressure, no “gotcha” gimmicks, and plenty of care and trust from a fullservice facility. “We’ve been in the people business since 1985,” says owner Robbie Roberson. “We know any shop

in town can work on your car, but we’re going to take care of you in the process because auto repairs aren’t cheap anymore.” To get to know a new auto repair facility, AAA recommends having minor service first. Robbie’s introduction to many of its new customers is a $14.99 oil change, which includes a free tire rotation and a courtesy check of the vehicle. “The whole purpose of our courtesy check is that while your car is here, it’s my job to check it out and let you know if any additional services are needed.” It’s then entirely up to the customer to decide whether to have those repairs made “If there’s something wrong with your car, we’re going to tell you that,” Roberson says. “If there’s a problem, our job is to tell you what the problem is and offer you a solution - and then you can make an informed decision about any repairs. There’s no pressure; it’s all about trust.” Speaking of trust, what about customers who need to buy a used car but fear the risk of purchasing from a private individual with an online listing? Robbie’s will provide

a free pre-purchase inspection to let you know if you’re getting a good deal - or if you should keep looking. And when your car’s “check engine” light comes on? There’s no need to panic - Robbie’s will diagnose it as a courtesy, too. After all, Roberson says, their best service is customer service. “Look at our reviews, ask our customers,” Roberson added. “We believe in people, and we’re here to help them.”

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


A Flair for the Majestic Augustino’s Offers Elegance, Great Food for Business Meetings BY SUSAN O’KEEFE

Augustino’s bills itself with catchy marketing phrases such as “prime steak,” “classic Italian” and “Southern-inspired.” When translated by a few female colleagues, phrases such as “well worth my time and money” were quick off the tongue as well. Housed in the Marriott Hotel off the Savannah River in downtown Augusta, Augustino’s seems like a well-kept secret. My colleagues and I were just recently introduced to it. Although there’s an upscale air and flair, it’s still cozy enough to slip off your shoes under the table. Prices are easy on the wallet when considering the quality of the food and service. It’s a busy place but not to the point where guests feel forgotten or like just one of the crowd. Our party of three was swiftly seated, water was promptly poured, and within minutes we were welcomed and advised about menu options. When I politely asked the server about specials, she was a wealth of knowledge. The most popular lunch selection was the pasta bar. Imagine an omelet station minus the omelets. The pasta bar was quite the table topic. The other two in my party picked pasta and raved about the choices. First, pasta-goers selected a vegetable and a sauce. Next, they were encouraged to choose a protein. And the pasta preferences continued until plates were piled high. For those without pluck, sticking close to the menu meant the standard lunch fare of soup and salad. The thought of a classic Reuben or Augustino’s steak burger made my mouth water. But the black bean burger was topped with a spicy Sriracha cole slaw and that’s what eventually

Augustino’s Food Price Location Networking Noise Level Augustino’s is located at 2 10th St. in downtown Augusta. Their phone number is (706) 823-6521 and their website is augustinos. net. elegant atmosphere with a hint of Southern charm that keeps it casual enough to feel like home. Large parties are welcome. Business meeting accommodations are possible. From food to networking, it seems to be a majestic place, just as its name suggests. Augustino is of Latin origins, used primarily in the Spanish culture, and means having a flair for the majestic. So, if the name fits, use it. made its way to our table. The duo of ladies accompanying me was eager to eat, discuss and leave with a few leftovers while keeping the budget intact. Prices range from the $10-$15 mark for the pasta bar and an iced tea, or a sandwich with fries, and similar fare. Portions are hearty. The food is filling. Without a doubt, there can be leftovers if you like. While the three of us visited, we noticed a nice, steady stream of patrons. There was a pleasant mix of open tables

and bustling conversations. We scarcely paid attention as we were thoroughly engaged in taste-testing one another’s choices. We all consented to thumbs-up for every food we tried. We definitely offered five stars for “delicious!” Augustino’s is open all 365 days of the year. That’s a lot of food prep and practice. With a service menu of breakfast, lunch or dinner, consider taking business meetings downtown and dine while crunching numbers and merging methods. It’s an






54 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

Susan O’Keefe has been reviewing restaurants for Buzz on Biz since August 2015. Her restaurant visits and reviews are done with a businessperson in mind.

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


On With the Show

After Three Decades, Miller Theater Comes Back to Life BY GARY KAUFFMAN

Opulence is returning to downtown Augusta, bringing back memories of a different era. Seventy-eight years after it opened and 34 years after it closed, the Miller Theater, 710 Broad St., is once again coming to life with a grand opening gala on Jan. 6. It is the culmination of a dream nearly a decade in the making. The Miller Theater will be the home of the Symphony Orchestra of Augusta, but will host a wide variety of programs – country and rock music, comedy acts, plays and musicals and even kids’ shows. In February 1940, Frank Miller opened his eponymous Miller Theater, one of five theaters he owned in Augusta. It was his grandest, and was considered a crown jewel among movie theaters in the South. It was the first building in the Art Moderne style in Augusta and featured rich woods, marble, terrazzo, mirrors, glass block – and lots of curves. There are virtually no right angles in the building. “Everything was playing to the idea of luxury,” said Marty Elliott, the new general manager of the theater. “It was intended that when you came into the theater it was like going into a cruise ship.” After the theater closed in 1984, it fell into disrepair, including water damage from a leaky roof. Augusta businessman Peter Knox IV bought the Miller Theater in 2005 and had the roof repaired to stop further damage. In 2008 he offered it to the Symphony Orchestra of Augusta as a future home. After deliberating the offer, the SOA accepted in 2011 and began a fundraising project to restore it. Fortunately, many of the original fixtures were salvageable and have been refurbished to their original condition. That includes almost all of the seats – they have new upholstery, but the wood and metal are all original. “Every effort was made to use the original materials,” Elliott said. Part of the original decor that will play a prominent role is the large murals of women on each side of the stage. Despite the years of the building falling into disrepair, the murals were undamaged by ei-

Miller Theater Events The Miller Theater will be home to the Symphony Orchestra of Augusta, but also a wide variety of other events. Marty Elliott, general manager of the Miller Theater, said the stage is spacious enough to handle large-scale props and has everything a touring show needs. Eventually, it may also host interactive theater experiences, screenings of historic movies on the anniversaries of their release and nostalgia plays. Meanwhile, the theater has been busy booking an array of events for the first quarter of 2018, with a full slate of events through January and February. Currently scheduled events for the Miller Theater are: Jan. 6 – SOA: Opening Night Gala (sold out) Jan. 8 – Henry Rollins Jan. 12 – St. Paul & The Broken Bones Jan. 20 – SOA: Beethoven’s Ninth Jan. 21 – Shopkins Live Jan. 25 – SOA: The Texas Tenors Jan. 26 – Fake It to Make It Feb. 3 – TEDx Augusta Feb. 16 – Diana Krall Feb. 17 – Ronnie Milsap Feb. 20 – Post Modern Jukebox Feb. 24 – SOA: A Classic Affair April 12 – Kathleen Madigan

ther vandals or the elements. “I feel like these grand dames protected this theater, knowing one day it would again be used,” Elliott said. The renovation has included attention to the tiniest details that made the Miller Theater exude luxury. “We’re trying to reanimate everything, from the carpet design to the seats,” Elliott said. “Every little detail matters. The little things all together end up creating a phenomenal experience.” There have been a few changes, though. The building was upgraded acoustically to provide the best sound possible for the SOA and the stage area was increased by nine feet. It will also integrate modern amenities without losing the historic feel. A key to the renewed use of the theater,

56 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2072

though, was acquiring the building next door. The bathrooms in the original theater were not adequate by modern standards, so the bathrooms will be located in the building next door, along with dressing rooms. Elliott said the 1,300-seat theater creates an intimate theater experience. “It’s almost like everybody is a VIP,” she said. “Every single person who walks through this door will get the full-on experience.” The Miller Theater also has a number of smaller rooms to allow for parties and other gatherings on nights of shows. One room will be dedicated to memorabilia of Frank Miller and the Miller Theater. Although the SOA is the master tenant of the Miller Theater, Elliott said they

will need the space only 12 or fewer times a year. That leaves it open to schedule other events. Elliott hopes to book 70-100 dates per year. She said the 1,300 capacity fits in nicely in size between the Imperial Theatre and the Bell Auditorium. Along with the James Brown Arena, City Spin Arena and the GreenJackets new stadium, promoters have a large variety in venue size within a few miles. Elliott thinks that will benefit the entire entertainment scene in Augusta. “Collectively, we represent Augusta to the entire market,” Elliott said. “It’s imperative that we’re all successful. I don’t fear abundance. I fear the couch – people not getting out and doing anything.”

What’s Eating Your Roof? Algae Growth Is Unattractive and Can Lead to Roof Damage tergents and low-pressure equipment, a homeowner can damage shingles and create permanent water damage to their home and surrounding landscape. Plus, there’s the added risk of falling due to not having the proper roofing equipment. Using a licensed and insured roof cleaning company such as AllClean Pressure Washing ensures a high-quality, safe and effective roof cleaning is done in a timely and professional manner per the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association recommendations.


Do us a favor: the next time you’re outside, take a look at your home’s roof. Chances are, you’ll notice at least some dark spots. Unless it’s rained very recently, these dark spots aren’t condensation but a much more serious problem – algae. In a humid climate such as the one we live in, especially in neighborhoods with plenty of shade and trees, algae such as Gloeocapsa Magma, more commonly known as bluegreen algae, attaches to your roof and begins to spread and thrive. Sure, having algae on your roof is an unattractive attribute. However, it’s more than that, and it’s not something you can put off taking care of. Here’s the thing: roof algae is a living thing, and it’s feeding off of the natural components used in shingle production. If your roof isn’t cleaned regularly to treat and remove algae, it can lead to rapid deterioration of your shingles, which can have unwanted effects. Roof shingles covered in algae are no longer able to efficiently reflect sunlight. The algae-covered shingles absorb heat,

thereby superheating your attic and increasing your cooling costs. Algae growth can also compromise the integrity of your roof. This type of growth on your roof absorbs the moisture from dew, and can penetrate the shingles, allowing moisture to get into the sheathing, causing wood rot. When the wood rots in a home, moisture gets in through the cracks and creates an environment hospitable to mold growth. And mold growth

in a home can pose health risks to people and pets. In addition to this, the smell of wood rot and growth on your home can attract wild animals to your home and ultimately into your attic. While it may be tempting to set aside a weekend to make your roof cleaning a DIY project, this may not result in the safest, most-effective cleaning possible, and can actually cause more harm than good. Without the proper cleaning de-

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


First on the Scene Netflix Shows Inside the Lives of First Responders BY SAMANTHA BARKSDALE

Have you ever taken a few moments to thank a first responder for the job they do? We take for granted that they will always show up when we need them, but we never truly consider what it takes to do their job. This month’s reviews of two Netflix documentaries are dedicated to just that, and are meant to serve as a thank you to those who run to the emergency, not away from it. Burn We all know things are tough in Detroit. The loss of factories meant the loss of jobs and the mass exodus of roughly two-thirds of the city’s population. It also means there are a lot of abandoned buildings, about 80,000 of them. Detroit is an arsonist’s playground, and as of 2012, had the highest rates in the country. Detroit’s firefighters work tirelessly to protect their city, and Burn follows their triumphs and tragedies. If you’ve never considered what it’s like to run into a burning building, Burn will give you a first-hand perspective. The heat is intense, the smoke is blinding and the firefighters don’t know the layout of the home. Couple that with the fact that bathtubs, air conditioning units and even water beds are liable to fall through the ceiling on top of the very people there to save the structure. It’s terrifying just watching it on a screen. Firefighters don’t just face physical danger; emotional damage can happen in an instant. Watching families lose their homes and everything they own, loss of life, and a city without money to guarantee the pension so many have worked for takes a toll on these men and their families. When you watch Burn, plan to get emotional. Then go thank a firefighter. They work harder than you know.

Heroin(e) While we typically think a firefighter’s job is battling blazes, there is much more to what they do. They’re called first responders, and quite often they respond to calls that have nothing to do with fire. Huntington, W.V., has been called the Overdose Capital of the nation. As a blue-collar town, many residents of Huntington work jobs that require manual labor and often result in injury. Injury leads to pain, pain leads to prescription medication, and when the prescription runs out, heroin is the next best thing. Heroin(e) is a Netflix original that follows three women in Huntington as they fight the opioid crisis in their community. The city’s fire chief works to provide firefighters with the medication needed to stop an overdose, even though they

aren’t required to use it and some feel it encourages drug use. A drug court judge provides men and women with an opportunity to get into rehab and clean up their lives, provided they follow all the rules. Finally, a ministry worker takes food and Scripture to the streets, hoping to change the lives of the women selling themselves to feed their addictions. This film isn’t fun to watch; it’s heartbreaking. While a woman who once had the potential to do something great with her life overdoses in a gas station, the cashier keeps ringing up customers. Everybody is used to this, so life just goes on. It’s the first responders who deal with it, day in and day out, saving addicts multiple times – and sometimes not. Heroin(e) is most certainly worth watching. If you didn’t know how awful

the opioid crisis is, you’ll see it firsthand. You’ll also be prompted, once again, to thank our first responders for what they do. They answer the call, no matter what the emergency, and we should all treat them with a lot more respect.

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.

TaxSlayer Sending Service Members to Annual Bowl Game Staff reports

Augusta-based TaxSlayer announced that it will give 5,000 tickets to the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl (previously the Gator Bowl until 2014) in Jacksonville to activeduty service members, retirees and veterans with a military ID or VA identification card. The financial services company has named it the Honoring Our Heroes Program which, along with the bowl game tickets, will include access to a post-game concert at Daily’s Place, an amphitheater connected to EverBank Field.

“TaxSlayer is an extremely proud supporter of the military,” said Brian Rhodes, CEO of TaxSlayer. “Honoring these heroes with a unique game-day experience is our way of giving back to a community that gives back to America every day.” Each serviceman or woman may request up to four tickets per military ID, and they can register for tickets at Limited transportation options will be available from the surrounding area, including direct transportation from Fort

58 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

Gordon. The game will feature a team from the Southeastern Conference and a team from the Big Ten Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference or Notre Dame. It will be played at EverBank Field on Saturday, Dec. 30 at noon and will be televised nationally on ESPN. TaxSlayer become the title sponsor of the Gator Bowl in 2011, and the game was renamed in 2014. Except for the 1994 Gator Bowl in Gainesville, the game has been played in Jacksonville since its first year in 1946.

It is the sixth-oldest college bowl game and in 1955 became the first bowl game to be nationally televised. Last year’s TaxSlayer Bowl featured an ACC-SEC match-up between Georgia Tech and Kentucky. Georgia Tech won the game, 33-17. “Jacksonville is such a proud military town,” Rhodes said. “What better way to say thank you to our heroes than by providing them with an unforgettable experience during one of the most storied match-ups in college football.”

CROSSFIT 706: HELPING YOU ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS It’s a persistent image of CrossFit: Heavily muscled athletes performing impossible physical tasks while trainers bark at them. At Augusta’s CrossFit 706, it’s more common to find a dozen class members of all ages, sexes and levels of fitness working out together, encouraging each other on their individual paths toward a healthier lifestyle. “We’re trying to break that stereotype that you have to be superfit before you do CrossFit,” says Stephanie Brown, who owns CrossFit 706 with her husband and fellow instructor, former U.S. Army Ranger Austin Akins. “We work with people who’ve never worked out a day in their life, and they’ve learned, ‘Hey, I can be healthy and strong, too!’” While CrossFit 706 membership spans a broad range of ages and fitness levels, about a third of the members had never participated in organized workouts. But whatever their prior experience, there’s no charge for the first visit. “Everybody can try a class for free,” Brown says. “That’s when we do our evaluation with them, see

where they are, what their athletic capabilities are and how they move.” That’s usually all it takes to get hooked on the high energy and supportive, family friendly atmosphere at CrossFit 706. “This is not a gym where you just come in and scan your barcode and you’re on your own for two hours,” Akins says. “Everything we do is in a structured class environment.” CrossFit 706 members also have the unique opportunity to participate in Adventures of Eating 101, which optimizes each member’s nutrition to their level of physical activity. Taking advantage of such inspiring programs requires a visit to the CrossFit 706 gym at 4304 Sudan Road in Martinez. It’s conveniently located off Wheeler Road, easily accessible from either the Wheeler Road or Belair Road exits of Interstate 20 - and its industrial park setting is by design. “Our No. 1 amenity is the amount of space we have,” Akins says. “It’s very rare for a CrossFit gym to have this much space - most are stuck in little strip malls. We have 10,000

square feet, so we can run classes with 15 people each, where 14 of them are your accountability partners and one is the instructor. We’re the perfect size.” Brown agrees. “Once you create this great environment, everything works so well.”

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Magical Drinking Fall Brings New Rum-Tinged Pumking Ale BY BEN CASELLA

A few days ago, I almost caught a glimpse of a unicorn. A friend texted me to say he knew of someone in town who had gotten his hands on a few Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPAs. We were just a little too late, as the few that were here vanished before dawn. Truly, a chance to catch a unicorn but just a little too late. Well, sometimes life just goes that way, but I’m over it. Maybe it’s my good attitude about the whole matter (which unfolded in its entirety in about four minutes), but not long after that I was introduced to a very tasty take on pumpkin ale from the brewers at Southern Tier in New York. I’m going to try to find a few more to stow away for when the weather decides to cool off and stay that way. I’ve outlined it below and would recommend it all by itself first, then perhaps with some dough balls from The Pizza Joint. Southern Tier Rum Barrel Aged Pumking – Yes. You read this correctly. There’s a Pumking that came into contact with rum barrels, and it’s worthy of your sampling. I’ve

been a Pumking fan (more so than its evil twin, Warlock) for years now, and this year has been no different. Picking up some pizza from The Joint on Broad Street led to me sitting with my buddy John for a minute and having a cold one and a brief conversation. Someone had poured an Angry Orchard cider by mistake and left it for anyone who wanted it. I intended no offense but politely declined. With that said, I saw the usual two Southern Tier fall taps: Pumking and Warlock. Then I asked the bartender, “What’s that one in the middle?” She plainly said it was Rum Barrel Aged Pumking. I was halfway looking around for a cord to pull so that balloons and confetti would rain down on all the patrons when she said the name of the beer. I tried to calmly say, “May I please have a pint of that?” However, it came out more as a “yes, yes, please and thank you!” – kind of like the dog from those bacon-flavored dog food commercials from the ’90s … I digress. The nose is, well, Pumking and rum. It’s sweeter on the

nose than the original Pumking. The rum notes really come through on the back end when you breathe out after the sip. It’s not sappy or thicker in any regard, just balanced, and with a touch of hops to round it out. I will be on the lookout for another one or two of these brews in the near future, and I should be on the lookout for more funky takes on pumpkin beers since so many are on the market these days. Man, I love fall, y’all.

Ben Casella has recently been challenged to a trivia night competition at a bar. He doesn’t know when or at which bar this is supposedly taking place. However, he hopes to win, and he hopes it’s at Stillwater Taproom.

New Dance Club Opening In Former Planned Parenthood Facility By Witt Wells

A new dance club called The Scene, which sparked controversy earlier this year, will open at the end of the month. Pro-life advocates had opposed the nightclub opening in the Broad Street building that housed Planned Parenthood until last year. The club’s co-founder Robyn Jarrett, who teamed up with her husband, William, to open the upscale nightclub of downtown Augusta, said they are aiming to open The Scene the weekend before Halloween. “We had really hoped to be open sooner, but we were fine with it taking this long,” Jarrett said. “We wanted to do it right.” Jarrett is planning on opening the club for the first time on Friday, Oct. 27. It will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

The Jarretts seldom find themselves at nightclubs these days, but 20 years ago it was a different story. Even now, as downtown has blossomed with all variety of different bars, the couple noticed that Augusta’s most vibrant entertainment district was still shutting down early. “When we started researching all this about a year ago, what we found was a lot of people were leaving downtown to go to other places in west Augusta because there was no dance club down here,” Jarrett said. “So we felt like it was the one thing downtown Augusta didn’t have.” While clubs such as The Lofts and Sky City have been downtown for years, the Jarretts saw one gap in downtown nightlife that could be filled: a hip dance venue where young professionals and college students could go for a fun and safe night out on weekends. “We think we’re going to be able to provide that,” Jarrett said. “We found the

60 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

right spot.” For some people in the area, the nightclub’s location was precisely the issue. Less than a year before the Jarretts started leasing the building, it had been Planned Parenthood’s Augusta Health Center, which closed in April 2016 after closing its Augusta operation following an assessment of “operational efficiency.” When it was announced months later that the building was going to be turned into a nightclub, local pro-life advocates, many of whom were affiliated with Augusta Care Pregnancy Center and nearby Curtis Baptist Church, pleaded with the Augusta Commission to block the club from opening. Instead, they wanted the site to be converted into a memorial or counseling center for women who have had abortions. But because the location fulfilled all the legal requirements to open as a nightclub, the Commission allowed the develop-

ment to proceed. Jarrett said she and her husband just wanted to make the most of the opportunity they saw. “We saw a vacant building,” Jarrett said. “We were filling a vacant building in downtown Augusta, which we think is nothing but a positive thing.” The Scene will be considerably larger than other nightclubs in the area. Of the 9,000 square feet on the ground floor, 5,400 feet will be filled with a dance floor, a DJ booth, a full-service bar with four serving stations and three VIP rooms. The remainder of the lower level will be opened next year as a VIP-only area, with a bar and more private rooms. The Scene will have a dress code, which will require men to wear collared shirts. “I can’t wait for it to be open,” said Timmy Feagin, who frequently goes to nightclubs in Augusta.

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October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz


buzz bits Continued from Page 6 Canal, complimentary access to kayaks and kayak storage, and a 3,000-squarefoot pool. “It’s going to set a new standard,” said Karen Kernaghan, project manager for Intermark Management Corporation. “Augusta’s been longing for that.” The 260-unit complex, which includes eight buildings, has one-, twoand three-bedroom units ranging from $1,015 to $1,475 per month. Intermark is based in Columbia and has been involved in the creation of similar high-end projects in cities like Columbia, Charleston and Greenville. Kernaghan said that kind of living option was lacking in Augusta, and that Residence at Riverside will be revolutionary for the area. Aside from having a coveted canalside location, the apartment complex will have a 24-hour cybercafé, a stateof-the art dog park, a poolside pavilion, a 24-hour fitness studio and a floating dock. “This community is going to set itself apart from every other community in the area by being a high-rise with elevators that offers direct access to the canal,” Kernaghan said.

EDA Seeks Replacement for Sprouse

Walter Sprouse announced last month that he is stepping down from his position as executive director of Economic Development Authority, and the organization is looking for someone to fill his shoes. Executive search firm Chason Group has been selected by the Authority to lead the search for its next president. Tim Chason, the recruiter’s president, is spearheading the assignment. Sprouse’s retirement is effective Dec. 31. The Chason Group said the individual in Sprouse’s role is the key contact for new business prospects for the community. The executive director must also work with existing industries seeking expansion opportunities. The authority is seeking an experienced marketer for the position who will lead the development of a strategic plan for economic growth in the community. Additionally, the AEDA board is looking for a professional with a minimum of five years of experience in

executive roles in economic and community development. Other responsibilities include budget oversight, developing a strong support staff and communicating with stakeholder groups about the programs and work of the organization.

New Augustan Magazine Goes Digital

Get ready for The New Augustan, a bi-annual magazine that the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau launched just last year, to be telling stories from Augusta’s River Region yearround. The ACVB launched, the magazine’s new, digital platform for stories that range from the vision behind Tire City Potters to the wealth of history and activities that flow through the Augusta Canal. Such stories enhance the experience of reading the magazine’s feature stories. “The stories that we’re looking for are (those) that make us unique, special and different,” said Barry White, ACVB president and CEO. The lifestyle magazine highlights the region’s history and heritage, while also showcasing the arts, culture and outdoor adventures that flourish along the banks of the Savannah River. White recognized guests featured

62 Buzz on Biz October 26-November 30, 2017

in the magazine during the launch, including local artist Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman, the Augusta Museum of History, Vintage Ooollee, Augusta Honey Company, the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, Sean Wight and the Augusta Training Shop. The fourth issue of The New Augustan focused on the thriving arts community in Augusta’s River Region, featuring Zimmerman and an extensive regional arts guide. “We found we have great stories to tell,” White said.

GreenJackets Sell Out Club Section for 2018

The Augusta GreenJackets have sold out their premiere section, the firstbase club, for the upcoming season. The section features 4,000 square feet of air-conditioned space, 197 cushioned seats with cupholders, and a roof terrace. Season holders of the premiere seating also have access to a private entrance and full bar. The premiere seating in the first-base section is the third section the GreenJackets have sold out. The third-base club, premier box, batter’s box, dugout reserved, and reserved sections still have available seating.

Chick-fil-A Helping with Operation Christmas Child

Aiken and North Augusta Chick-filA locations are teaming up with Operation Christmas Child this year to help needy children around the world. Operation Christmas Child – the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind – is collecting shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for needy children overseas. The project hopes to collect at least 20,000 gift-filled shoeboxes this year from the Aiken County area to help achieve its goal of reaching 12 million children. In 2016, nearly 11.5 million shoebox gifts were collected worldwide, with more than 9.1 million collected in the United States. The campaign kicked off on Oct. 14. People who drop off their gift-filled shoeboxes at Chick-fil-A in Aiken or North Augusta by Saturday, Nov. 11, will receive a coupon for a free food item. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 146 million packed shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories. Instructions and ideas on how to pack your shoebox can be found on the Operation Christmas Child website at

openings, closings and moves Continued from Page 7 reported that the property has been advertised for lease. Two websites associated with the restaurant no longer appear to be operational. Marshall and Lisa Monroe bought the restaurant from Bryan Mitchell in the spring of 2015 and added “Jazz and Blues Café” to its name to advertise its reintroduction of live music. Mitchell opened Eli’s American in Evans in 2016.

Augusta Athletics Sports Bar Augusta Athletics Sports Bar and Grille, a nearly year-old local bar that doubled as a comedy club, has closed after its final night in business on Oct. 10. Jackson Brown, the bar’s founder and owner, said he received an eviction notice last week. For Brown, it signaled the end of a months-long struggle to launch Augusta’s first full-time comedy club since Comedy House Theatre closed in 1998. “It has been such an uphill battle,” Brown said. That was largely due to a city ordinance that stated his establishment could not legally operate a comedy club at 3629 Walton Way Ext. because the shopping center wasn’t zoned for entertainment. After opening the venue in December 2016, Brown spent months fighting the ordinance to no avail and was forced to brand the business strictly as a sports bar that held regular karaoke nights, which were permitted by the ordinance. The two-in-one business model that combined a bar and comedy club is one that Brown said he saw succeed in Myrtle Beach, prompting him to try it in Augusta. He didn’t foresee the issues the city would have with making that idea a reality. “They were basically telling me, ‘Why don’t you go do this somewhere else?’” Brown said. Finally, in July, Brown was permitted to host stand-up performances under a revised ordinance, and he began setting up comedy nights. Brown hosted around five stand-up comedy shows at the venue he named “The Best Medicine.” None of them attracted crowds of any size close to what

Brown had become accustomed to when he was managing comedy clubs in Myrtle Beach before trying to open his own in Augusta. “We just couldn’t draw anybody,” Brown said. Brown knew he wasn’t in a strong market for comedy. Even when Jay Leno played Bell Auditorium in 2015, Brown was shocked at how few people showed up. But he thought the lack of a single comedy club in Augusta might be the perfect reason to open one for locals who were hungry for laughs. A series of advertisements in local newspapers didn’t seem to work. And the bar’s “Sports Bar” sign didn’t effectively market to comedy fans driving down Walton Way Extension. The presence of family in Augusta, including a mentally disabled brother whom Brown helps care for, was one of the main reasons Brown came back home. Now that he’s had to close up shop, he says he might try his hand once more in Myrtle Beach, where he has a network of friends and colleagues in the business of making people laugh. “Most likely, I’m going to go back to Myrtle Beach,” Brown said. BirdDog Grille Martinez restaurant BirdDog Grille closed on Sept. 30, according to its Facebook page. “We want to thank everyone for your loyalty and support over the past 5½ years!” the Facebook post said. BirdDog Grille is located at 3851 Evans to Locks Road, in the Village at Furys Ferry. The restaurant was opened in 2012 by Lakeside High School graduate Brett Hilton, who named the restaurant after his menu’s first selections: gourmet hot dogs and chicken dishes. Hilton had become accustomed to cooking for people at his house in college. After moving back to his hometown of Augusta and completing culinary school at Augusta Technical College, Hilton began working to turn what had been an Asian eatery called Tao Asian into an “upscale-casual” restaurant. He also began asking people to send him photographs of their dogs so he could display them on the TV screens in the restaurant and hang them on the wall. It is unclear what establishment will replace BirdDog Grille.


LNO Inc., a military service dis-

abled-veteran-owned business specializing in tactical and strategic command, control, communications and computer information systems, is opening a second Augusta office on Perimeter Parkway, which had been leased by the University of Phoenix. Augusta-based commercial real estate company Sherman and Hemstreet completed the lease transaction. It was the second cyber contractor that Sherman & Hemstreet has placed in the office park. LNO, Inc. said the University of Phoenix building was a perfect fit because of their need for a classroomstyle space. LNO’s current Augusta location is in Martinez. The Augusta metro area has become a huge attraction for cybersecurity companies looking to set up headquarters near Fort Gordon. Earlier this year, Fortune Magazine named the city a dark horse for becoming the cyber capital of the world.

renovations to the 2,400-square-foot first floor have been completed. The building used to be the home of one of James Brown’s radio stations. Alison South is currently headquartered in Aiken, and its main office will remain there. The agency’s office on Columbia Road in Martinez, which meets with Augusta-area clients, will move to the downtown location. “Being located in the historic Commerce Building is symbolic of our work to brand and market businesses for economic growth,” said Mike Thomas, CEO of Alison South. The firm will join other award-winning creative agencies Wier/Stewart and Kruhu on Broad Street. The firm was formed from The South Company and Alison Marketing when the former purchased the latter in 2016. “We are investing in the Renaissance of downtown Augusta, just as we invested in downtown Aiken a few years ago,” Thomas said.


Wier/Stewart Award-winning creative firm Wier/ Stewart closed a deal in September to acquire its neighboring building, 908 Broad St., which used to be Schweitzer Art Glass Studio. The agency plans to expand its office with more quiet meeting spaces, a bigger kitchen, break areas and an updated lounge that will particularly benefit nursing mothers. Studio Director Daniel Stewart said the company has outgrown its current space. “The main reason (for the purchase) is that it’s not often that a building that touches your building is for sale,” Stewart said. “It would have been foolish to let someone else take it.” Stewart said he hopes the new facility will be finished by the first quarter of next year. Alison South Marketing Award-winning advertising agency Alison South Marketing Group will be moving into the historic Commerce building at 670 Broad St. soon, after

Pipeline Work Clothes Pipeline Work Clothes and Boots has moved from its location on Wrightsboro Road to a new location on Columbia Road. The retailer sells a wide variety of uniforms and footwear for the CSRA’s workforce, including everything from corporate to industrial apparel. The new store opened on Oct. 16 at 4497-9 Columbia Road. Pipeline Work Clothes is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

SALES Shangri-la

Chinese buffet Shangri-la on Washington Road in Martinez has been sold to a Chinese restaurateur in Aiken, according to Jordan Trotter Commercial Real Estate. The family that sold Shangri-la Buffet has been serving Asian food in the CSRA for decades. They closed Sho Chin’s Asian Kitchen last year, as well as the old Shangri-La restaurant that was replaced by Whole Foods on Washington Road in 2014. Sho Chin was replaced by “That Flippin’ Egg.” Jordan Trotter brokered the Shangrila deal for the seller. It is still unknown when and what kind of business the new owner will open.

October 26-November 30, 2017 Buzz on Biz




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