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Partridge Inn getting a facelift................................. 2 Buzz Bits.........................................................................8,9 Plan now to minimize taxes.....................................12 Columbia Co. Chamber earns high honor..........14 Metro Market unique to downtown.....................26 Many vets still underemployed..............................28

Are electric vehicles the wave of the future? One CSRA business thinks so, is installing 27 charging stations

By Stephen Delaney Hale Will electric cars do to gas-powered engines what gaspowered cars once did to the horse and buggy? One Aiken businessman thinks there is a strong chance of the use of electric vehicles growing in popularity and has plans to build free charging stations around the CSRA. Norman Dunagan, owner of Dumpster Depot, has committed to establishing 27 free charging stations around Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties by the end of 2015. He believes that is one step in putting more electric vehicles on the road. “Electric cars and charging them are a chicken or the egg thing,” Dunagan said. “People are reticent to buy electric cars or hybrid electric vehicles because there are not enough charging stations for you to get around very far. And there aren’t enough charging stations because there aren’t enough electric vehicles because people have Range Anxiety, the fear they won’t get there.” Fully electric vehicles still make up less than 1 percent of all new vehicles sold, but the number of new sales doubled in 2013 and increased another 35 percent in the first half of 2014. Hybrid vehicles, which run on electricity but have backup gas engines, comprise about 3 percent of new sales. One of the biggest concerns with electric vehicles is what Dunagan called Range Anxiety. Although it varies with the car model and the type of driving conditions, an electric car typically has a range of less than 100 miles on a single charge. A few manufacturers make models that exceed 100 miles, and Tesla has a model that can go more than 200 miles in ideal conditions. That’s why many electric vehicles are generally used only for local driving. Dunagan’s plan will help eliminate Range Anxiety, at least on a local level. Dumpster Depot, a waste hauling and recycling company, has developed partnerships with several of the companies See CHARGING STATIONS, page 4

Haley Hughes charges her car’s battery at one of the charging stations Dumpster Depot has installed in the area. Photo by Stephen Delany Hale

An electric love affair Haley Hughes loves her Chevy Volt. The former News Editor of the Aiken Standard who is now in communications and marketing at Georgia Regents University, bought her electric-gas hybrid car almost three months ago and she has become a zealot for electric vehicles. “Just plug it in overnight at home and it is all charged and ready for me to drive to work in the morning,” Hughes said. Hughes has a standard 120-Watt outlet in her carport and has not had any trouble forgetting to plug it in coming

home, a slight fear she admits she had before buying the 2012 model Chevrolet. “In my commute of about 25 miles through traffic from Aiken to Augusta I use about three-fourths of the charge on the battery,” she estimated. She figures on the road she averages about 50 miles on a charge. When traveling, once the battery is depleted, or at any See ELECTRIC, page 4

Historic Partridge Inn making big changes Hotel shut down till March for $6 million renovation project

By Gary Kauffman Augusta’s historic hotel, The Partridge Inn, will be closed for more than four months while it undergoes a $6 million renovation that will turn it into a 4-star hotel. “It’ll be a blend of the old and the new,” general manager Hal Smith said in an interview with Buzz on Biz radio. “We want to preserve the old Southern charm that emanates from the street but the rooms will take on a totally different look.” The hotel was purchased in June by Partridge Inn Holdings, LLC and will be operated by Atlanta-based Northpointe Hospitality Management, LLC. The hotel shut down operations on Nov. 2 with plans to reopen in mid-March in time for Masters Week. “One of the reasons we are shutting down is so we can get everything done that we want in preparation of being a 4-star hotel when we open,” Smith said. All 144 rooms, the hallways and the lobby will be part of the first phase of the renovation.

An artist rendering of how the rooms will be renovated.

“The rooms are dated and not as comfortable as they once were,” Smith said. The renovation includes new walls, new furnishings and new carpeting. Bathrooms will take on a new look and the amenities in the rooms will be of a higher caliber, such as 42-inch HD TVs. The Internet service will also be upgraded.

“Our plan is to have everything you could possibly want as far as technology in that room,” Smith said. The hallways will have new sconces and chandeliers that will reflect the old Southern charm the hotel has been known for. Design accents include the use of rich, deep-toned woods, richly-textured

fabrics, neutral colors and an eclectic, modern design. Libby Patrick, President of Sims Patrick Studio, Inc., the design firm working with The Partridge Inn, describes the new look as, “Old World glamour meets Southern charm with a modern twist.” The exterior will get a facelift as well. Because some parts of the hotel date to the early 1900s there are some structural issues to resolve. The exterior will be repainted in a soft beige with white trim. The verandahs will be upgraded, and there will be new landscaping around the hotel. The second phase of the renovation, expected to start in late July, will address the penthouse and public meeting spaces. Smith said the penthouse will be transformed into a meeting space. “It’ll be all glassed in,” he said. “You have a panoramic view of Augusta up there and we want to enhance that. When people rent out that we want them to have a perfectly charming experience.” Despite the new look, Smith said rates will remain reasonable for a 4-star hotel. “We want to make sure we’re priced at a value,” he said. “Our rates will be comparable to the Marriott downtown and other hotels of like nature.”

Elliott Davis, Decosimo merge to serve seven states

Tracey Laurence of Unisys spoke about jobs in Augusta on Nov. 6. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Unisys bringing 700 jobs to Augusta By Gary Kauffman Unisys, an IT company that plans to work with the Army at Fort Gordon and other clients, held a job fair on Nov. 17 as the kickoff to its plan to create about 700 jobs. Within five years, Unisys plans to employ about 700 people in the Augusta area, starting with about 250 in the first year. The jobs are primarily in end-user support for its IT customers through telephone calls and email. Tracey Laurence, a vice president at Unisys, said that Unisys was outgrowing its facilities in Salt Lake City and Rochester, N.Y., and needed to expand. Augusta was chosen as the site for the new office after a sevenmonth search of more than 100 locations. “We found the labor market in Augusta ideally suited for the long term,” she said. “The state is home to a smart and motivated workforce, and in Augusta we found a vibrant local community.” She said Unisys will work closely with the U.S. Army at Fort Gordon, but also has

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other commercial clients. City officials are pleased with the quality of the jobs Unisys will provide. “The kind of jobs that are coming to Augusta are the kind of jobs everyone wants,” said Henry Ingram, chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority. Walter Sprouse, executive director of the EDA, said Augusta was interested in Unisys because of the quality of jobs and the commitment it has to community. “But the icing on the cake is the personnel that are already employed by Unisys,” he said. He believes Unisys’ decision to expand to Augusta will have a long-term affect on the community. “This is an outstanding day for Augusta,” Sprouse said. “In years to come, we’re going to look back and say this was one of the defining moments of this community.” Unisys is expected to eventually move into the former Fort Discovery site on Reynolds Street.

The accounting firms Elliott Davis and Decosimo recently announced a merger, set for Jan. 1, that will create the fifthlargest accounting firm in the South. Elliott Davis currently has an office at 1 10th St. in Augusta. The firm will be known as Elliott Davis Decosimo and will have 17 offices in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. Elliott Davis is based in Greenville, S.C., and Decosimo in Chattanooga, Tenn. Rick Davis, the current managing shareholder of Elliott Davis, will head the new firm. “This combination positions us to serve our clients with an even broader range of expertise across a wider geographic footprint,” Davis said in a statement. “We are excited about the growth opportunities this will bring to not only our clients, but also to our people. Decosimo shares our values and, as Elliott Davis Decosimo, we will continue our tradition of delivering excellent service to our clients, providing a rewarding career environment for our people and making a positive impact in our communities.” Decosimo managing principal Nick Decosimo will serve on the Executive Committee, which will include representatives from both firms. “Our firms share common cultures and a

commitment to providing superior service and expertise to our clients,” Decosimo said in a statement. “We look forward to building upon our individual successes to create a firm with a more powerful regional focus and an even broader array of capabilities and expertise to better serve our clients.” Both firms come into the merger in strong financial shape. Elliott Davis grew by 14 percent in 2013, and Decosimo has experienced an 8 percent growth so far in 2014. Both are listed in Accounting Today’s Top 100 Firms for 2014. The merger is expected to allow the firms to grow geographically, as well as broaden their industry specialties. Combined, they bring expertise in banking, entertainment, government, health care, investment partnerships, manufacturing and distribution, private equity, real estate, technology and life sciences. The merger also gives both firms’ clients additional experience in the core services like audit, taxes, litigation support, estate planning, business valuation and transaction advice. “We have made strategic investments to aggressively grow in our newer markets,” Davis said. “In Charlotte, Raleigh and Richmond we’ve seen double digit growth over the last few years and we expect to pursue those same growth goals in the markets Decosimo brings to this combination.”

You have a choice

Whether you are a regular reader of Buzz on Biz or advertiser, you have a choice. Heck, you have lots of them. In the last few weeks, I noticed new 16-page publications focused on the city of Augusta or urban life, along with glossy suburban magazines, all hyper-targeted to particular affluent neighborhoods in the CSRA. Our creative team led by Editor in Chief Gary Kauffman doesn’t take that for granted. That’s why in this edition of Buzz on Biz you’ll notice many changes. We continue to be stitched along the spine like a magazine and have now added “magazine-like” touches to enhance your reading. Our local thought-leader columnists are highlighted with new photos, many in their natural environment. Yours truly is thankful Gary did not photograph me at my desk since you might not have able to see me over the piles of paperwork. Also new this month is a column by someone I affectionately call “Sister Girl,” Katie Silarek, my sister-in-law. Katie is a tremendous inspiration to the many family members, friends and cli- Neil Gordon ents she trains at her new studio Be Bella Fitness Boutique on Buzz on Biz Old Evans Road. We think she’ll be a great asset to readers who work hard and need a little push toward health and fitness. Her Publisher initial column advocates not waiting until after the holidays to start your fitness regimen. Lastly, you may be reading Buzz on Biz before Dec. 1 and notice that the front cover indicates it is the December issue. When we enhanced Verge magazine, Buzz’s sister publication, we changed our print dates to give us the time to maintain our high standards. Buzz will now be published on the third Thursday of the month, which means it will remain on the newsstands into the next month. To avoid confusion we are listing the publication date as the following month – that’s why this one is the December issue and the one that hits the newsstands a week before Christmas will be the January issue. Speaking of newsstands, Buzz on Biz will be available at all area supermarkets and in new red, white and blue boxes around town. Neil Gordon is president of Buzz on Biz, LLC and produces a daily TV segment on News 12 This Morning, a daily radio show on WRDW 1630 AM, a daily website, a weekly email business newsletter and the monthly publication Verge in addition to Buzz on Biz, the CSRA’s only monthly business publication. To learn more, visit or email him at

THE CSRA’S ONLY MONTHLY BUSINESS MAGAZINE The Buzz on Biz mission is to act as an inspirational tool for those in the workplace and those who are entrepreneurs, and to provide useful, practical information to increase their companies’ bottom lines. To order a 12-month subscription mailed to your home or office, please mail a check for $36 to cover postage to the address below. Publisher Neil R. Gordon Editor in Chief Gary Kauffman/803-341-5830 Sales Manager Neil R. Gordon/706-589-6727 Sales Janine Garropy/803-480-2800 Design Gary Kauffman

Photography Gary Kauffman Melissa Gordon/ Contributing Writers Alexandrea Daitch Stephen Delaney Hale Submit Information

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

For more information, visit us at or like us on Facebook

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December 2014 Buzz on Biz


GB&T marks 25 years by giving to charities By Gary Kauffman Georgia Bank & Trust turned its 25th anniversary party into a celebration of the community Nov. 6 by awarding 10 local charities $2,500 each. Recipients of the Give Back 25 donations were Boy Scouts of America – Georgia Carolina Council, Broad Street Ministries, Columbia County Animal Rescue, Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, Golden Harvest Food Bank, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Safe Homes of Augusta, Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, Walton Foundation for Independence and When Help Can’t Wait. For a small charity like When Help Can’t Wait, which provides essential supplies to nursing home residents, a donation of $2,500 was a significant contribution. “It’s a God-send,” said Helen McVicker, president of When Help Can’t Wait. Georgia Bank & Trust CEO Dan Blanton said the Give Back 25 campaign came about during a brainstorming session of how to celebrate the bank’s 25th year in business. “The first thing that came up was a party, which is normal, but as we talked about it we thought, wouldn’t it be nice to take that block of money and give it back to the community,” he said.

Georgia Bank & Trust CEO Dan Blanton, center, with representatives of the winning charities. Photo by Gary Kauffman

Bank employees listed 25 potential charities to help. Those were posted on the bank’s website that allowed the public to vote for their favorite. The 10 charities receiving the most votes split the $25,000 donation.

CHARGING STATIONS continued from page 1 it already does business with. Under his plan, the business supplies a couple of parking spaces and pays the electric bill. Dumpster Depot puts in the station, which is smaller than a gasoline pumping station. The vehicle owner parks and charges up – for free. The company with the charging station foots the electric bill. At the maximum, Dunagan figures it costs the host company about $2 each time someone fully charges their car battery, although it will be usually closer to $1 for the more common partial charge. It simply increases the host company’s power bill that much. That can be considered a perk for employees of large companies. “In our waste business we service a lot of large manufacturing companies with hundreds of employees,” Dunagan said. “Having a charging station is a great benefit for their Looking for a charge? Dumpster Depot has already established several charging stations for electric vehicles in the Augusta and Aiken areas. • Augusta Marriott • Top Notch Car Wash, Belair Road • Whole Foods, Washington Road • USC Aiken Convocation Center • The Mill on Park, Aiken • Hampton Inn, Whiskey Road, Aiken • Dumpster Depot operations center, Kershaw Street, Aiken Both Nissan dealerships in Augusta, on Washington Road and on the Aiken-Augusta Highway have stations that they installed themselves.

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employees who can fully charge up while they work.” For the Dumpster Depot cost, the Level II stations they install cost $2,000-$4,000. The company has budgeted $87,000 to supply the 27 stations over a year’s time. Dunagan doesn’t get any money when someone uses a station and he knows he won’t make that investment back from any direct payment source, but he wants to do it for several reasons. “My faith tells me to be a good steward of the earth so that is part of the reason I am so committed to renewable energy,” Dunagan said. “Also, this is our 10th year in business, which continues to be more successful so this is a way for us to pay it forward, kind of our giveback for 10 great years of support in the Aiken-Augusta market.” What Dumpster Depot gets in return is a little marketing. The charging stations have space for logos, which Dumpster Depot shares with the company that hosts the station. “It is great branding for all of us,” Dunagan said. “In the past, $87,000 would have been a very large marketing budget for us. But for Dumpster Depot and for other companies with similar markets who can directly reach the people who are already inclined to do business with us, that marketing investment doesn’t look that high anymore.” It seems to work. “When I first gave a speech announcing several recycling and other environmental conservation projects, I asked for a show of hands of how many in the audience had ever heard of Dumpster Depot,” Dunagan said. “Nobody raised their hand. I just gave the latest version of that speech and every-

Tens of thousands of votes were cast. “We were overwhelmed by the response,” Blanton said. “Everywhere we’d go in the community, people were talking about it.” He said some of the charities sent e-blasts to their supporters to rally the vote.

Georgia Bank & Trust has a history of giving to the community. Blanton pointed out that two pages of the annual report are dedicated to the charity work the bank does. “This community built us,” Blanton said. “We are this community.”

body in the room knew who we are.” And there’s also the good will Dumpster Depot generates through the charging stations. “When I was an executive with Frito Lay, people liked us because our products made them feel good,” Dunagan said. “When we make it possible for people to hook up to free energy, it makes them happy and they begin to think of our company in a positive way.” The day when electric vehicles outnumber gas-powered cars on the road may still be years in the future, but Dunagan hopes his efforts will educate people, and especially large employers, that there is a viable

electric vehicle market. Dunagan believes electric vehicle use has ramifications even for those businesses that aren’t directly in the market for cars or charging stations. “Yesterday we wanted to go out to dinner and we thought about going to a Mexican restaurant out of town,” Dunagan said, “but my charge was low so we charged here at The Mill and walked a block to the Aiken Brewing Company. We changed our purchasing decision because of the location of an EV charger. That is going to happen more and more with hundreds and hundreds of new people.”


continued from page 1 time the driver cares to, the car switches over to the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine, running like any other car. The display on her Volt tells Hughes that she has driven 3,133 miles since she bought the car and first charged it up. In that time, about 2-1/2 months, she has used 41 gallons of gas, an average of 76.6 miles per gallon. “I haven’t ever gotten really low on gas yet. I fill up every Friday, just to keep records and amuse myself on how much gas I have used after driving all week,” Hughes said. She averages using about 3.5 gallons a week and spends about $12, although most of those miles were driven during the days when gas was more than $3 per gallon. Her previous Honda CRV cost her between $40 and $49 a week in gas. But she has to use premium gas and she estimates that her electric bill at home has

gone up by about $20. Also, Hughes admits, you don’t get as much acceleration when driving in electric mode, but there is a “Sport Mode” you can change to and it “shoots like a rocket.” Chevy has already announced plans for a version with greater battery power in 2016. With her hybrid, instead of an all-electric car, there is no danger in not being able to travel to the next station. “I have chatted with a number of people on the electric vehicle Facebook page and, like me, they all just can’t say enough about how much they love their cars,” Hughes said. “Electric Vehicles are not mainstream yet, but the more businesses who become involved as Dumpster Depot is, the more people will realize its value and it will become accepted,” she predicted. “When people come to realize the value of green energy it will become more of a movement.”

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Business Benefits Russell Head

Ready for Round 2 Health care enrollment offers new carriers, plans

I have spent this past week analyzing the new options for individuals who will purchase coverage both onexchange ( and off-exchange during this years’ general open enrollment period. If you live in the CSRA on the Georgia side you will see some new carriers and plan design options that were not previously available. United Healthcare and Assurant are the two new insurance carriers. Initially it looks as though both Humana and BCBSGA are the two lowest cost carriers on-exchange. According to initial data, Humana captured better than 97 percent of the initial enrollment in the Augusta market. While BCBSGA is offering slightly better rates for the new open enrollment it would be wise for an enrollee to make sure their physicians and hospitals of choice are included as network providers. While both BCBSGA and Humana operate their onexchange and off-exchange product offerings within the HMO or POS platform you may see a different network of providers on the most competitive products. A commercial group product offering may include all area hospitals and 99 percent of the providers in their network. Individual products may tell a different story. It should be noted that on BCBSGA’s most competitive on-exchange offering, University Hospital, is not included. This network is referred to as Pathway X. United Healthcare’s on-exchange offering does not include Trinity or Doctors Hospital. Humana’s product offering will continue to include all four area hospitals and most all physicians on the National Point of Service platform. Assurant will utilize both the Aetna Signature Administrators PPO and Multiplan network platform of providers

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which will also include most providers in our area. Coventry Healthcare of Georgia, an Aetna company, will be offering one of the least-expensive products off-exchange in the Augusta area. Understanding network access is essential to anyone seeking the most from your benefit plan. Accessing a non-network provider on an HMO product may prove quite costly – meaning potentially no coverage for non-emergency type care. While access to in-network providers is vitally important, each enrollee needs to understand the coverage level of benefits. Specifically, the benefit coverage related to physician office visits and prescription coverage is vital in deciding which insurance carrier and plan design is appropriate for your utilization level and budget. Each insurance carrier and plan design may have different coverage benefits related to a physician office visit. While some plans may cover the phy-

Understanding network access is essential to anyone seeking the most from your benefit plan. sician office visit exam with a co-pay, others may also include both lab and non-complex X-rays as well. I would not anticipate many, if any, plans to include an in-office visit surgery within a physician co-pay but rather this benefit being applied to the deductible first. For many, prescription coverage may be the most important aspect of your coverage level of benefits. Each carrier will design their formulary prescription coverage through their managed pharmacy vendor. Each level of covered pharmacy benefits will be aligned to a prescription tier. Each plan may include up to five tiers of co-pays. Each enrollee should know their prescription coverage for each tier before se-

lecting a plan design. See the coverage options below for my own family demographics as an example for on-exchange coverage without any subsidies. For further explanation of the ACA/ PPACA provisions outlined in this article, please refer to the following resources:,, and Russell T. Head is President/Managing Partner with Group & Benefits Consultants, Inc., Augusta’s largest, privately held, locally owned employee benefits consulting firm. He can be reached at 706-733-3459 or rthead@gandbc. com. Visit Group & Benefits Consultants at

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


New job board in CSRA

A new job board to help local businesses recruit employees is now available. The CSRA Employment Guide Job Board is a free community resource that connects employers and employees in the CSRA. Employers may post jobs, create company profiles, and manage applications all from this page. The site does not accept “looking for work” ads from individuals and will also not post multilevel marketing job postings on this job board. Jobs will be kept posted for 30 days but can be removed sooner. For more information, visit

Georgia, SC in top 5 for business climate Georgia and South Carolina are in the Top 5 for states with the best business climate, according to a new survey of U.S. corporate executives. The report was released at the International Economic Development Council’s annual conference. Georgia was tied for third with North Carolina, voted as best by 17.6 percent of those polled. South Carolina was fourth with 12.6 percent of the vote. Texas was the clear winner, identified by half (49.7 percent) as the best. Florida ranked second at 18.1 percent. Tennessee, at 11.6 percent, rounded out the Top 5. Among the reasons the corporate executives gave for their votes were tax climate, pro-business environment, incentives and financial assistance and workforce quality and availability.

Fund raising event helps Julie’s House Making Ends Meet Bargain Center will host its 6th Anniversary Yard Sale on Nov. 28, with proceeds to help Julie’s house, a shelter for homeless women and their children.

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buzz bits National honors for Best Western, manager The Best Western Evans Hotel, located in Grovetown, received the Best Western “Champion Customer Care Award” at Best Western International’s Convention held recently in Toronto, Canada. The award was presented in front of more than 2,000 Best Western hoteliers. This honor is bestowed upon those member properties that demonstrate and best exemplify exceptional levels of service and care. The hotels must also meet quality and design standards and other membership requirements to qualify. The Best Western Evans Hotel was one of only 112 hotels out of more than 2,100 properties in the United States and Canada to receive the designation this year. “We are pleased to receive this award and to have our hotel and staff members recognized – they are our front line employees who extend superior customer care to our guests,” said owner/general manger Kanta Kondur. Sales and Marketing Manager Kim Gibbons received the “Heroic Hospitality Stars Award for Sales Director of the Year.” This select honor recognizes individuals who have demonstrated superior customer care and professionalism by delivering a high level of service to guests, and to those who go that extra mile to create memorable experiences for their guests. “Kim was one of only seven hotel employees The yard sale will be held in conjunction with Black Friday and run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Among the items on sale will be clothes, fabric, fashion accessories, household items, arts and crafts supplies, linens, furniture, small appliances, books, toys and sporting goods. Making Ends Meet is located in La Petite Plaza, 3850 Washington Road, between Bojangles and CSRA Camperland.

Global Spectrum expands Windsor Club The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority and Global Spectrum unveiled a new Windsor Club location inside the Bell Auditorium on Oct. 29. The Windsor Club currently serves as an exclusive club for members before, during and after events. Membership includes the ability to purchase preferred seating to all events before they go on sale to the general public. Members also have access to a private club entrance, bar, restroom and preferred parking.

Kim Gibbons and Kanta Kondur

selected to receive a Heroic Hospitality Stars Award, out of all staff at the brand’s more than 2,100 properties. That is quite an accomplishment and we are pleased to see her efforts recognized,” Kondur said.

“The Coliseum Authority is excited to open an addition of the Windsor Club in the Bell Auditorium,” said Brad Usry, Vice Chairman of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority. “The Bell continues to bring in exceptional acts and events, so this allows the Windsor Club Members to have the same premium experience they have at the James Brown Arena.” “We are pleased to be a part of the expanding Windsor Club franchise,” said Don MacNeil with Windsor Jewelers, “and look forward to an enhanced Bell Auditorium experience going forward.” Global Spectrum ( manages the James Brown Arena and The Bell Auditorium, as well as more than 120 other public assembly facilities around the world.

EDTS among best in SC

EDTS, a regional IT services company specializing in managed IT services, network security, and advanced infrastructure for Southeastern businesses,

has been named No. 23 among South Carolina’s Fastest-Growing Companies for 2014. Winners in the competition were announced Oct. 21 at a luncheon attended by hundreds of business and governmental leaders in Columbia, SC. “This honor reflects the growing regional recognition of EDTS as an IT service provider that is committed to providing the highest level of support to our growing client base,” said Charles Johnson, CEO of EDTS. “All of us at EDTS are proud to have earned this recognition and we are committed to keeping our clients’ business networks running at the highest levels of performance and efficiency.”

Aiken Chamber wins regional honor

The Aiken Chamber of Commerce was recently named the large Chamber of the Year for the Carolinas. The Aiken chamber is one of 150 chambers in that category in

South Carolina and North Carolina. Chambers in this category have 1,000 or more members. “I am so proud to be the president of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce,” said President/CEO David Jameson. The award recognizes the strategic direction, leadership, partnerships and action toward achieving goals that benefit the chamber and community. “What I like most about this award is that it recognizes the achievements of the overall organization and not those of any single person,” Jameson said. The Aiken chamber is one of only 68 chambers in the country that hold 5-Star accreditation from the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Hearing Associates marks 10 years Hearing Associates of South Carolina is celebrating 10 years in business in Aiken. Dr. Sherri Little of Hearing Associates of South Carolina could not seem to settle anywhere until she moved to Aiken in 2004. She has been practicing audiology since 1985. “The past 10 years spent in Aiken have been the longest amount of consecutive time I have resided anywhere other than my hometown in western Pennsylvania, and I am happy to be a part such a wonderful community,” Little said. Hearing Associates of South Carolina provides patients with diagnostic audiology evaluations for all ages, fittings for hearing aids, hearing aid repairs, aural rehabilitation which teaches new hearing aid users what to expect and gets them acclimated to the new devices, and on-site testing for hearing conservation programs. Trey Welsh heads up the on-site testing division, which allows businesses to comply with OSHA regulations without leaving the office or work site. For more information or to schedule a hearing evaluation, call 803-641-6104 or or on Facebook.

Salvation Army announces its Christmas events The Salvation Army has announced the various programs it will be offering during the holiday season to benefit people in the CSRA. Angel Tree, Friday, Nov. 7 – Friday, Dec. 5 – The Salvation Army gives gifts purchased by sponsors to parents who may then experience the pride of providing gifts for their children and the treasure of sharing in their excitement. Angel tags (to adopt a needy child) are available at The Salvation Army Kroc Center, the Augusta Mall, and all Walmart stores in the Augusta area. Toys for Our Children Toy Drive, Friday, Nov. 21 – Monday, Dec. 15 – The Salvation Army and WFXG Fox 54 are teaming up for Toys for Our Children toy drive to benefit local kids in need.  Locations include Fox 54 WFXG, 3933 Washington Road; Gerald Jones Honda, 4022 Washington Road; The Salvation Army Center of Hope, 1384 Greene Street; and The Salvation Army Kroc Center, 1833 Broad Street. Thanksgiving Community Meal, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2-4 p.m. – The Salvation Army Center of Hope, 1384 Greene Street. This meal is free and open to anyone in need. Walmart “Fill the Truck” Toy Drive, Friday, Nov. 28 – Sunday, Dec. 14 – All Area Walmart Stores. The “Fill the Truck” Christmas Toy Drive is open to the public who would like to donate new toys and clothing to help local needy children. Look for the big red “Fill the Truck” bins at Walmart’s throughout the CSRA. Holiday Tour of the Homeless Shelter, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2-4 p.m. – The Salvation Army Center of Hope, 1384 Greene Street. Take a break from the holiday rush to enjoy cookies, coffee, and a lesson of love. A tour of our homeless shelter and soup kitchen is a great opportunity for families, youth groups and churches.

buzz bits

Christmas Community Meal, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2-4 p.m. – The Salvation Army Center of Hope, 1384 Greene Street. This meal is free and open to anyone in need.

Marketing firm holds contest for non-profits

A local marketing firm is giving back to non-profits in the Aiken area by holding its first annual Creative Dash event. The South Company invites local non-profits to apply for their 24hour rebranding event. The South Company’s Creative Dash consists of 24 hours of branding. Aiken non-profit organizations may apply to be chosen for the Creative Dash and one non-profit will receive a marketing plan complete with a logo redesign, new website, campaign ideas, a press kit, video and more. The total value of the package is $5,500. Applications for the Creative Dash will be accepted until Dec. 7 and a winner will be chosen on Dec. 15. The Creative Dash event will be held Jan. 22-23, 2015. The South Company crew will begin work at 9 a.m. and will work through the night and into the early hours of the morning to complete a marketing plan to be presented at 8 a.m. on Jan. 23. Rebecca Vigné, Director of Public Relations at The South Company, said, “We wanted to give back to the Aiken community that has helped our company grow so much over the past five years. The Creative Dash is an event we are all excited about, and we hope to see plenty of applications.” To apply for the Creative Dash, visit to fill out the online application.

Bowles makes Top 500 list of remodelers

Bowles Construction was recently awarded the Top 500 Award by Qualified Remodeler’s Magazine. The Top 500 list is a benchmark for the nation’s remodeling industry’s performance and recognizes remodel-

ers for significant and sustained success in terms of installed remodeling dollar volume, industry association membership and awards, years in business, industry certification, and community service. Bowles Construction was ranked 229 out of 500 and recognized for its strides in the Insurance Restoration business. Bowles Construction was the only company recognized in the CSRA for this prestigious award. Bowles Construction Inc. was formed in 1978 and specializes in general insurance repair services which include total restoration and reconstruction of residential and commercial property damaged by fire, water, and wind.

University, Doctors achieve A grades University Hospital and Doctors Hospital both achieved an A grade in the fall 2014 Hospital Safety Score, which rates how well hospitals protect patients from errors, injuries and infections. The Hospital Safety Score is compiled by leading experts and administered by The Leapfrog Group. “Patient safety needs to be a 24-7 priority for hospitals, as errors and infections are all too common and often deadly,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, which administers the Hospital Safety Score. This is the second consecutive A report card for University Hospital. “When patients come to University, they receive safe, state-of-the-art care that excels in quality from all perspectives time and time again,” Jim Davis, president/CEO for University Health Care Systems, said. “To believe that all hospitals are the same regarding quality and safety is misguided. We encourage patients to be informed health care consumers. University is known for its highly trained physicians and staff and for having processes in place to deliver great care. That’s the recipe for success.” Karen Smith, chief nursing officer for Doctors Hospital,

Augusta EDA website named as one of best in nation The Augusta Economic Development Authority’s website has been named one of the best economic development websites in the United States. The Development Authority received a “Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award” in the 2014 awards website category from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). It is the highest award category in IEDC’s Economic Development Awards Program. The honor was presented to Walt Sprouse, Executive Director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, at an awards ceremony on Oct. 20 during the IEDC Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. The EDA’s website can be found at Henry Ingram, Chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, said, credited the staff. “It is because of the hard work of our nurses, physicians and staff that we are able to provide such high quality care to all our patients. Our dedication to patient safety is evident in these scores and we are proud of this accomplishment,” Smith said.

Military family caregiver coming to area The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving’ s (RCI) signature military caregiver program, Operation Family Caregiver, announced its expansion into

“We know that site selection consultants and project managers from across the country depend on an accurate, factual and detailed website on the local level. To have the Augusta EDA website selected as one of the best economic development websites in the country is, indeed, a high honor.” The Augusta Economic Development Authority website was developed to display a professional image and to provide updated and accurate information. According to the IEDC judges, the design is “clean, bright, inviting and easily navigated.” The focus for the website is to provide the required information for site selection consultants, statewide project managers, and prospects to learn about Augusta’s sites and building, its outstanding workforce and superior quality of life. three new regions, including Augusta, with high concentrations of returning military personnel. RCI has developed a deliberate and strategic plan to extend the Operation Family Caregiver program into the 10 states with the highest concentration of post-9/11 veterans, active military and guard/reserve. Operation Family Caregiver is an evidence-based program that provides support to the families of newly returning service members and veterans. Speciallytrained coaches teach military families the skills they need to overcome unforeseen challenges and cope more effectively with problems they never imagined.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Business openings, closing and moves Openings Gary’s Hamburgers A closed Wife Saver restaurant is gaining new life as home to another local restaurant chain. Gary Gibson of Gary’s Hamburgers is in the process of renovating the vacant Wife Saver building on Belair Road in Martinez, which will become the sixth restaurant in his chain. The Quigley family previously owned and operated the Wife Saver at that location. It closed in April 2013 and moved operations to a new location in Grovetown. Gibson owns five other Gary’s Hamburgers, located on Georgia Avenue in North Augusta, Washington Road in Martinez and on Wheeler Road in West Augusta, and in Granitevill, S.C. and Johnston, S.C. Loop2Loop Michelle and Deanne Looper opened Loop2Loop Accessories & Gifts in mid-October in the showroom of Looper Cabinet Co. Inc. The business is located at 418 Columbia Industrial Blvd., Evans. The store carries items to help people entertain, beautify their kitchen and home or for a quick gift for a friend. Loop2Loop has items such as platters, custom monogrammed cutting boards, tea towels, picture frames, wine corks, wine bags, coffee mugs and LED candles. They are also featuring a local artist Doug Larson, who has several paintings on display in the store. Store hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.4:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Just Beds Just Beds has opened its fifth location in the CSRA. The new store is in Sweetwater Center off of I-20 at Exit 5, next to the new WalMart center, and joins a host of new developments in the Sweetwater area of North Augusta. Just Beds has been in business for more than 25 years and sells high quality Serta products including Perfect Sleeper, IComfort, and ISeries mattresses. They also have a large stock of headboards, daybeds, and iron beds. This location joins others located in Augusta, Evans, North Augusta, and Aiken. DeFoor Realty An Appling real estate firm is opening a new office in Harlem. DeFoor Realty announced recently that it will be expanding into downtown Harlem, on North Louisville Street. “We’re so excited to be able to offer an additional location in Harlem,” said Lloyd DeFoor. “Both because things are looking up in the real estate market, and because we strive to provide the best customer service we can. We believe an additional location will help us meet that goal.” The office will be staffed by Bobby Culpepper and Andrea Garrett, who are joining the DeFoor real estate team. Culpepper is the mayor of Harlem and his family is well known in the area for Culpepper Ford. Garrett has lived in Evans for about seven years and is involved with the Wesley United Methodist n Church family. She is a former pre-K teacher.

10 Buzz on Biz December 2014

Burroughs-Elijah Burroughs | Elijah Attorneys of Augusta has announced the expansion of their estate planning and elder law practice to Aiken. The new office, located at 228 Richland Ave., Suite 5, now allows residents throughout Aiken County convenient access to expert legal services involving estate planning, elder law, veterans’ benefits, Medicaid planning and probate administration. Robert J. Forrest, a seasoned attorney, recently joined the Burroughs | Elijah Attorneys law firm as Director of Marketing after moving to the area from Massachusetts, where he holds a bar license. Although he is not licensed to practice law in South Carolina, his 40 years of legal experience establish Forrest as a bastion of knowledge in the fields of estate planning, elder law and veterans’ benefits as well as taxation issues. Gilvey’s Dry Cleaners Gilvey’s Dry Cleaners & Laundry recently opened downtown at 126 Eighth Street, between Broad and Reynolds streets. The dry cleaner will cater toward downtown businesspeople, offering a fast dropoff service and a two-day turnaround for cleaning. The owner of the business, Ed Harrell, also owns Mama Ellen’s Cleaners on Washington Road. He hopes to expand his dry cleaning business into North Augusta and Grovetown. Kroger A new Kroger store and other retail shops are on their way to the Grovetown area after the Columbia County Commissioners approved rezoning of 23 acres. The location for the new shopping area is just off Exit 190 at Lewiston Road, Blue Grass Trail and William Few Parkway. Roads in the area will be reconfigured to facilitate traffic flow. The new store will be a Kroger Marketplace, which carries more items than just groceries, such as furniture, clothing and jewelry. This will be the first such store in the Augusta area. The location will also create room for other stores and restaurants. The new Kroger store is expected to create 250-350 jobs. De La Pop Gourmet Popcorn If you aren’t happy with the same old popcorn, a new store opening in the Augusta Exchange is the place for you. De La Pop Gourmet Popcorn will open in the space formerly occupied by Whoa Nuts, in the shopping plaza across from the Regal Cinema. The new store will offer 125 flavors of popcorn, 90 types of soda and candy. The owners of the new store, Ramon Brown and Allen Walker, own a similar store in Columbus, Ga. Walmart The new Walmart at Exit 5 in North Augusta opened in mid-October. The new store is located at 1041 Edgefield Road. “We’re so pleased to have Walmart as a Chamber member,” said North Augusta Chamber of Commerce President, Terra Carroll.

The opening of the new store will mean two Walmart stores in North Augusta, with the other location being on Knox Avenue. Silver Linings Flooring & Home Design Silver Linings Flooring & Home Design officially opened its doors in October to provide high-quality flooring and comprehensive interior design services to residents and businesses in the Augusta area and surrounding counties. Although flooring is a large element of Silver Linings’ focus, the company also provides cabinetry, window treatments and complete interior design services. “Silver Linings is a new company in name, but our staff offers over 50 years of combined experience in the flooring and design industry,” said Bob Reese, manager of Silver Linings Flooring & Home Design, “We carry complete floor lines as well as exceptional design services for both the home and office.” But what truly sets Silver Linings apart from many other flooring companies in the industry is its interior design service component. “Many do not realize that an interior designer will actually help families and businesses save money by taking care of all of the details,” said Pam Pianka, interior designer for Silver Linings. Silver Linings Flooring & Home Design, located at 664 South Old Belair Road, Grovetown, is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closings Wife Saver An Augusta restaurant has closed its doors after nearly four decades of serving the community. The Wife Saver location on Mike Padgett Highway (Highway 56) has closed after 37 years with the retirement of owner/operator Rick Whitehead. The closing was confirmed by Wife Saver president Chris Cunningham in a conversation with Buzz on Biz founder Neil Gordon. Cunningham has decided to not make the substantial renovations needed at the store and find a new owner/operator. Instead, he is encouraging customers to try the new Wife Saver Restaurant that opened at the beginning of October on North Leg Road. Wife Saver has other locations in Augusta, Grovetown, North Augusta and Aiken.

Moves Men’s Refinery The Men’s Refinery BarberSpa, a fixture in North Augusta for the past seven years, will soon get a new home across the river. Buzz on Biz founder Neil Gordon recently spoke to Men’s Refinery owner Shelley Craft, who told him that she is renovating a building in downtown Augusta. The store in Jackson Square in North Augusta closed at the end of October, and Craft expects to re-open in the new location early in 2015. Meanwhile, clients of The Men’s Refinery can continue to make appointments at Craft’s sister salon, Special Effects, on West Avenue by calling 803-441-0071.

The Men’s Refinery provides haircuts, shaves, massages and manicures and pedicures for men only. Craft hopes the move will provide better access to her services for businessmen in downtown Augusta, West Augusta and Columbia County. Low Country Clothier Low Country Clothier, a trendy fashion spot for men, has moved to a new location just down the road. After about a year in business in the Furys Ferry Plaza near the Riverwatch Parkway, the business will move into a building across from the Publix, at 426 Furys Ferry Road. Low Country Clothier offers men’s casual clothing, formal wear, belts, suspenders, bow ties, soaps, colognes, and other accessories for the fashionable man. Pecans Unlimited A longtime Augusta business has moved following the death of one of the owners. Pecans Unlimited has closed its store at 1704 Central Ave. and will move the operations to Atlanta. Longtime owner Hugh Greene passed away in September. His wife, Jane, will continue to run the business but from Atlanta where she will be closer to family. She will share space with her son, who has a nut and candy shop there. Pecans Unlimited will continue to offer the same selection of pecan assortments in their famous tins. Orders can be place at or at 706-736-1800. Van Gogh and Vino Van Gogh and Vino, a business that coaches people to paint, moved to a new location on Nov. 1. The business moved from Stevens Creek Road to Le Pavilion Plaza at Washington Road and Pleasant Home Drive, next to Neapolitan Cupcake. Michele Ashe owns Van Gogh and Vino. She is an artist and art teacher who opened her art studio in 2010. Van Gogh and Vino allows for a relaxing time with friends creating a “masterpiece” with step-by-step instructions. For more information, visit Serenity Massage and Wellness An Augusta spa is moving, changing its name and expanding its services. Laurie Pratt, owner of Serenty Spa on Washington Road, announced that she has signed a deal to purchase a former real estate building on Pleasant Home Road, just a few blocks from the current location. She expects to renovate the 1,500-squarefoot building over the next few months and open prior to Christmas. Because the space is nearly double the current size, Pratt plans to add staff to do facials and mani-pedis. Currently she only offers massages. In addition to the move, Pratt is modifying her name and logo to reflect the new direction of her business. The name will change from Serenity Day Spa to Serenity Massage and Wellness Spa. Pratt owns a second spa on North Belair Road in Evans.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Business Matters Christine Hall

The End is Near

Plan now to minimize your tax burden for 2014 New taxes and higher tax rates are making year-end tax planning as critical as ever. The basics of tax planning are simple – defer income and accelerate deductions – but as we all know, sometimes it is not that easy. Here are a few tips that may help minimize your tax burden for 2014. Increase/Decrease Withholding – Ideally, you would like to break even every April 15 or owe just a few hundred dollars. Why wait another year for a big refund? A large refund means that you have given the government an interest-free loan of your own money! On the flip side, extra withholding can help alleviate a large tax liability on April 15. Now is a good time to review your withholding and make adjustments. Minimize Tax on Social Security Benefits – When modified adjusted gross income plus 50 percent of Social Security benefits exceed certain thresholds ($25,000 for single taxpayers and $32,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return), benefits can become taxable. If you are receiving Social Security benefits and are close to these thresholds, seriously consider deferring income to help

Kim Romaner

Growing Stronger

Business sales show biggest gains since recession, the Internet’s largest businesses-forsale marketplace, recently released its Q3 2014 Insight Report. The results are compiled from business sales transactions reported by participating business brokers.

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minimize the taxability of your Social Security benefits. Group Itemized Deductions Into One Year – For 2014 the standard deduction is $6,200 for a single taxpayer and $12,400 for a married taxpayer filing a joint return. If your itemized deductions are close or just below the threshold consider grouping them into one year to maximize the deduction. An early or extra mortgage payment, pre-deadline property tax payments, planned donations or strategically paid medical bills could equal some tax savings. It may make the difference between your ability to itemize deductions rather than take the standard deduction. Realize Stock Losses to Offset Gains – If you sold stock in 2014 and are looking at large gains, you may want to consider selling some of your stock that is losing money as well to offset those gains. Just be aware that long-term capital losses first offset long-term capital gains and that shortterm capital losses first offset shortterm capital gains. Make Section 179 Expenditures – You can elect to depreciate up to $25,000 in section 179 expense for new or used tangible property used in your business. This amount is phased out when qualifying property placed in service during the year exceeds $200,000. If your business is in need of some new furniture or a piece of equipment needs to be replaced, this is a good option to help minimize your tax liability. Maximize Contributions to Retirement Plans – Making contributions from pretax income is always a good strategy, but it can be extremely benefi-

Among the report’s findings is the fact that median sales price for businesses rose 5 percent year over year, and that sellers received approximately 95 percent of their asking price. The median asking price remained static, rising just 0.5 percent year over year. However, the asking price on businesses listed on BizBuySell. com during this period rose by 4.3 percent, indicating that sellers are feeling more optimistic about the changes in the market. The third quarter came in just 2.1 percent behind the second quarter of 2014, which still holds the record for most closed business sales since before the recession. 2014 is on track to be the hottest business sales year since BizBuySell. com began compiling this data in 2007. As businesses have emerged from the recession and returned to stronger financial health, sellers are seeing that translate into better results at the closing table. In BizBuySell’s September 2014 Buyer & Seller Confidence Survey, nearly half of the respondents who felt more confident cited stronger busi-

cial if it reduces your income to a lower bracket. Each household’s financial circumstances are different so it’s important to fully consider your specific situation and goals before making large financial decisions. Be sure to contact your tax advisor now. Once Dec. 31 arrives it is too late!

Business sale transactions have increased on the local front ness financials as the reason. The lending environment has improved as well, as banks have begun to actively seek transactions to fund. Seller financing has also become more prevalent, which has benefitted buyers and helped to close more transactions – 30 percent more sellers this year planned to offer seller financing in order to facilitate the business sale. The number of businesses listed for sale were up in the third quarter of 2014 by 2.2 percent, with manufacturing, service-industry businesses and restaurants leading the way with the highest percentage of growth. Sectors that enjoyed the highest percentage of closed transactions were ser-

This is a sponsored employment article. Hall & Associates LLC is a full-service public accounting firm established in 1979. They have a staff of experienced professionals that stand ready to meet all of your accounting, tax and general business needs. For a complimentary consultation, call 706-855-7733 or visit

vice-industry businesses (35 percent), retail establishments (30 percent), and restaurants (24 percent). Business sale transactions have also increased on the local front, meaning that these trends are being felt not only in the large metropolitan areas but in smaller markets, too. The results of the mid-term elections may point to increased confidence in continued improvement in the economy, in which environment it seems likely that the growth currently being experienced in the business sale marketplace will continue. Kim Romaner is president of Transworld Business Advisors of Augusta, a business brokerage that helps people buy and sell businesses, and also enter into the franchise world. With over 100 locations in the U.S. and abroad, Transworld has sold many thousands of businesses. If you’d like to talk to Kim about selling your business, buying a franchise or turning your existing business into a franchise operation, please call 706-383-2994, x802, or email her at

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Columbia Co. Chamber earns 5-Star Accreditation Becomes only chamber in region with 5-Star ranking

By Tammy Shepherd President/CEO Columbia County Chamber How does your business measure up? Have you ever had to do a self-evaluation of your job performance? How does your job performance measure up to your job description, goals, and the strategic plan of the company? Lastly, how does your business measure up to the best practices in the industry? The Columbia County Chamber can answer all of those questions and say we are the best of the best! On Nov. 18, The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce unveiled its rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the Pre-Legislative Breakfast. In front of a group of top executive members, we were excited to announce that the Columbia County Chamber moved up to a 5-Star Accredited Chamber. Clark Thomason of U. S. Chamber of Commerce, made a presentation to the Chamber’s Executive Committee on the tremendous accomplishment. This was the culmination of a long process and a lot of effort by many people. The Board of Directors of the Columbia County Chamber and the staff agreed in October 2013 to apply for re-accreditation with the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. This is an extensive six-month process of selfexamination of the organization in nine key areas:

The Chamber’s Board of Directors members who were most involved with the accreditation process surprised the Chamber staff with the announcement of the award, a cake and special crowns. From the left: Joey Cummings, Director of Membership; Cassidy Harris, Director of Programs; Yvonne Meeks, Vice-Chair of Accreditation Committee; Angi Brock, Chair of the Accreditation Committee; Rick Crawford, Board Chair; Nancy Peyser, Administrative Assistant; Jennifer Miller, Director of Communications and Workforce; Michelle Piper, Board Chair-Elect; Ashley Haines, Bookkeeper; Tammy Shepherd, President/CEO; Jean Duncan, Sales Representative.

1. Governance 2. Finance 3. Human Resource 4. Government Affairs 5. Program Development 6. Technology 7. Marketing and Communications 8. Facilities 9. Benchmarking The Board and staff were divided into groups to focus on key areas and answered the questions and provided backup documentation to satisfy measurement of operations. The process was long and often tedious. There were many meetings and extensive research and development outside

of the meetings. On Aug. 27, the application was complete with supporting documentation that filled a 5-inch-thick 3 ring-binder. The process was led by Angi Brock, Executive Committee Member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Chairman of the Accreditation Committee. This achievement of a 5-Star Accreditated Chamber validates the hard work and dedication of the staff and board to the mission of the Chamber for the last five years. And, it insures the knowledge of operations is transferred between the staff and the board, keeping the organization strong while operating at the highest standard.

What it means • Of the 7,077 chambers in the U.S., only 213, or 3 percent, are accredited. • Of the Accredited Chambers, only 89, or 1 percent, have earned the 5-Stars. • The Columbia County Chamber is the only Georgia Chamber in this region to be accredited.

Magazine again picks Georgia as best state for business Gov. Nathan Deal announced in early November that Georgia, for the second consecutive year, has been ranked the No. 1 state in the nation for business by Site Selection magazine, one of the nation’s top economic development trade publications. “Making Georgia the best state in the nation to do business was a strategic goal I set on day one of my administration,” said Deal. “This time last year, when Site Selection named our state No.1, I vowed that I would work to keep us in that top spot, and that is exactly what we’ve done. Georgia’s business climate has topped that chart multiple times now, and people are taking notice. Not only are more businesses expanding or relocating here, but more people are moving to our state to take advantage of the new job and investment opportunities being created. Receiving this ranking for the second year in a row confirms that what we’re doing here in our state is in fact working.” The magazine releases its annual rankings each November. Fifty percent of the annual business climate rankings are determined by a survey of corporate site selectors. The other 50 percent is based on an index of seven criteria:

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performance in Site Selection’s annual Competitiveness ranking; total New Plant Database compliant facilities in 2013; total new facilities in 2013 per capita; total 2014 new projects year to date; total 2014 projects year to date per capita; state tax burdens on mature firms and on new firms according to the Tax Foundation and KPMG Location Matters analysis. “Our New Plant Database of new and expanding facilities and our annual survey of corporate site selectors have placed Georgia once again at the top of our ranking of state business climates, following a first-place finish in 2013 and Top Five showings the previous five years,” said Site Selection Editor-in-Chief Mark Arend. “Our readers regularly point to Georgia’s workforce training program, Quick Start; the Port of Savannah and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and other logistics assets; and its pro-business state leadership and economic development infrastructure statewide as the main reasons they choose Georgia locations.” Georgia has ranked among the top 10 states in Site Selection’s business climate rankings over the last 10 years including being named No. 1 to the list last year. This year,

Georgia’s business climate was also named No. 1 in CNBC’s annual rankings and No. 1 in Area Development’s 2014 rankings. “Not only does this recognition put a spotlight on the state’s logistics infrastructure, workforce, accessibility to our state through our ports and our pro-business environment, but also the strength of the diverse assets of our economic development partners and communities across the state,” said Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development Chris Carr. “We are proud of this ranking because it means so much to site selectors and corporate decision-makers who are looking at Georgia.” Site Selection magazine, published by Conway Data Inc., delivers expansion planning information to 48,000 executives of fast-growing firms. The senior publication in the development field, Site Selection is also available via Site Selection Online. The publication also publishes or co-publishes e-newsletters, including The Site Selection Dispatch, Life Sciences Report, Aerospace Report and Energy Report; Site Selection International; The FDI Report; Trust  Belt. com and the OnSITE Travel blog.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Business Solutions Charles Kelly

Twice as Nice

Increasing productivity as easy as using two monitors Every business owner wants more productivity for themselves and their staff members. You might be willing to buy a new computer or replace an entire network to make those gains and the payoff might be there and it might be worth every penny. Sure, it might be worth it… But what if you could achieve that productivity increase at a fraction of the cost with virtually no risk? Replacing a computer or a network is going to cost significant time and money. Adding or replacing monitors is virtually risk free, a fraction of the cost and often results in the productivity improvement that all of us as business owners strive for. Having two monitors on one computer will result in smoother operations, fewer headaches, more creativity, a better customer experience and, ultimately, a better bottom line. If you write word copy, work on spreadsheets, do graphics work, analyze medical data, design products or really do anything that involves you switching between programs, all the studies show the same thing: One really big monitor (30 inches or larger) or having a second monitor improves productivity in a dramatic and mea-

Chris Shelton

Picture Perfect

IP cameras capture superior security images The purpose of a video surveillance system is to review and monitor who or what was responsible for a particular event or interaction. But what good is it to have images that are so coarse that you cannot see a person’s face?

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surable way. Tasks takes much less time, the thought process is smoother and you don’t have that start/stop process that creates one more mental interruption during a task that requires creativity or extreme focus. You might have a major upgrade planned with hopes that it will solve the bottlenecks in your process and improve productivity. But if you’re on the fence and maybe you feel like it might not be time, or that you are spending far more than you should, you can do this instead: Purchase some nice new monitors, 20 or 22 inches or even larger, and implement some dual monitor workstations. Whatever you spend on these monitors, they will work with the next generation of computers that you purchase anyway and you are hand-picking your monitor instead of just accepting what comes with a bundled system. Most computers, including laptops

and Apple products, already have the connectors you need, but if they don’t, you can usually add another video card for around $50 to $80. Being able to connect a nice 19- or 20-inch monitor to your laptop to give you dual screens or to simply give you something better than the average 15.6 inch size is a great time- and eye-saver. If you need some help, snap a picture of the back of your computer, showing the connectors and either email it to me or one of our staff and we will explain the options. Get monitors that come with a three-year warranty. They cost a little more but usually have better specs. I like Viewsonic, Samsung, Acer, LG and on occasion some Dell brands If you are writing medical reports from MRI’s or sonograms, you will want a specific video card and probably a pair of high-end Samsung or Viewsonic monitors. The correct monitor paired

with the right video card will give you the resolution, color, tone and contrast that you need to interpret these vital images. Only 15 percent of you are already running dual monitors, and those 15 percent are outperforming everybody else. Either that or they are watching their security cameras or catching up on Netflix while they work. They have increased their capabilities for the price of a monitor or two. Better performance at a fraction of the price – it’s the kind of edge we are all looking for and it’s right there on your desk.

We have all seen an episode of CSI where the police experts are looking at a surveillance clip or image that is grainy and even vaguely human, then one of them says, “Zoom in and enhance that.” As if it is magic that suddenly the once coarse and blurry image becomes a crystal clear and super image of the culprit. That is total fiction. The truth of the matter is that a blurry image from an analog camera system is only going to get more blurry when you attempt to zoom in on the suspect. Fortunately not all is lost. No longer does surveillance camera footage have to consist of the poor quality and narrowly focused images we are all used to seeing with analog CCTV systems (think of those images we see on the 6 o’clock news from a convenience store hold up and all that is recognizable is that it is someone wearing a red jacket and dark pants). The latest technology IP cameras are the wave of the future. IP systems

do cost more than traditional analog systems; however, they are worth the investment. IP stands for internet protocol and refers to a digital camera that communicates via a typical network. The truth is that even the best analog camera (about a half megapixel) can’t hold a candle to the entry-level IP camera systems in terms of image quality. Don’t be fooled by what some companies claim is high resolution or HD analog cameras. There is really no comparison. An industry standard 2 megapixels or higher is required for facial recognition, and IP cameras can approach 10 megapixels. IP cameras also capture a much wider field of view than a similar analog camera would, meaning a single IP camera is potentially able to do the same job as three or four old-school cameras. With higher IP cameras approaching 10MP, the quality you prefer is just a question of cost. IP cameras are

actually miniature computers with a built-in lens, meaning once the cameras are purchased and installed they will receive software updates from the manufacturer as they become available. They just keep getting better even after installation. Before making an investment in a new system or simply updating an existing system call us to discuss the cost and options that best suit your particular needs.

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

Christopher Shelton has 29 years of experience installing, repairing and integrating commercial and industrial electronic security, IT, control and A/V systems. He is a Georgia-licensed and fully insured contractor of burglar, fire, telecomm and general low voltage systems. Chris has installed, maintained and integrated electronic premise systems for all types businesses, including Chic-fil-A, Bojangle’s, Wal-Mart and several schools and churches. Contact him at 706-541-0878.


Top Notch Car Wash celebrates 25 years servicing the CSRA By Rebecca Vigne, The South Company Top Notch Car Wash is celebrating 25 years in the CSRA this November. Top Notch Car Wash is a family-owned and operated business with 4 locations in Evans, Martinez, South Augusta and West Augusta. Owners Donald Cawley and Doug Millar have been partners for more than 30 years. Top Notch began as a self-service only car wash in 1989 and expanded into full service in 1993, with the purchase of their first tunnel wash on Washington Road in Martinez. Currently there are four locations offering full-service washes, where they vacuum, and exterior washes, where the customer has use of free vacuums. “Many things have changed over the past 25 years, but our commitment to provide a top quality car wash for our customers has not,” Doug Millar said. “We care about our customers and we focus on taking care of their vehicles.” The company has won Best of Augusta the last 14 years. In addition to the care it shows its customers, Top Notch is committed to giving back. The car wash participates in Grace for Vets each year, which provides free car washes for veterans and active duty military. The company holds an annual blood drive with the help of Shepeard Community Blood Center and Bruster’s Ice Cream. In addition, the company makes charitable donations to local non-profits throughout the year and helps local schools and athletic programs raise money through their fundraising program. The car wash sets itself apart from others in the area by offering unlimited wash plans. Customers can join the Clean Car Club to receive unlimited car washes for a monthly fee, starting at only $14.95 per month, with no contracts. The company services fleet accounts throughout the CSRA allowing businesses to keep their fleet vehicles in top-notch condition with ease. Fleet cards are issued to businesses and may be used at any of the four Top Notch locations. Two of the four Top Notch locations also provide oil changes, tire rotations and detail services for their customers. For more information on Top Notch Car Wash, visit or find Top Notch on Facebook. December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Business Advice Larry Rudwick

Top of the Game

To be truly successful, keep all your bases covered Really successful business people spend significant time learning to refine their skills and knowledge, help others grow, and do many other things to keep ahead of their competition. There are several basic ways to learn to do better: 1)

Mike Herrington

Life After Death

Your business can live on even after you’re gone If you had died or become disabled yesterday, who would own and manage your business today? There are four ways to fund a buy-sell plan at an owner’s death:

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teach yourself new things by making mistakes and learning from them, 2) read books, listen to audio tapes and watch video presentations on subjects you need to learn, and 3) learn from others by talking with people that have mastered what you need to learn. To be truly successful in business, business owners and general managers need to make sure “all of the bases covered.” But, unlike in baseball, there are many more than four bases to cover. Some of the bases include: 1) interpersonal skills, 2) how to negotiate in good faith, 3) how to sell, 4) how to manage people, 5) human resources, 6) administrative duties, 7) bookkeeping and accounting, 8) where to get help on anything required, 9) delegations, 10) existing regulations, 11) our legal system, and 12) necessary technical skills for your particular business. No one will master all of these bases themselves. But to be truly on top of your game, you must have enough knowledge to handle some

of these bases yourself. And, when that’s not practical, you know when to call in professionals, and you know how to manage them properly, so you get good value for your money from them. “The Profit”: There is a very interesting and educational TV show on CNBC called The Profit. Marcus Lemonis is a wealthy entrepreneur who is invited to help small privately owned businesses on the verge of bankruptcy. Marcus’ keys to business success are “People, products and process.” When the owners are willing to make changes that Marcus knows are needed and that he primarily orchestrates, businesses are turned around from near bankruptcy to amazing success quickly. (Usually this occurs with an infusion of cash from Marcus as well.) However, Marcus is not always successful, and ultimately chooses to walk away from the ailing business. Marcus sometimes chooses to walk away from the business due to owners’ failures to

properly perform. Typically owners’ failure is a combination of dishonesty, denial, not doing what agreed to and poor interpersonal skills. I highly recommend watching all of the episodes of The Profit as one way of many ways to become better at business. Marcus Lemonis is very much on top of his game. Are you on top of your game? Does your business need help? Do you think you need an infusion of money? If so, call me and let’s discuss what might be the best next step. Becoming on top of your game takes careful thought, determination and hard work. It also involves knowing where to turn to find the help that is right for you.

1. Cash Method The purchaser(s) could accumulate sufficient cash to buy the business interest at the owner’s death. Unfortunately, it could take many years to save the necessary funds, while the full amount may be needed in just a few months or years. 2. Installment Method The purchase price could be paid in installments after the owner’s death. For the purchaser(s), this could mean a drain on business income for years. In addition, payments to the surviving family would be dependent on future business performance after the owner’s death. 3. Loan Method Assuming that the new owner(s) could obtain a business loan, borrowing the purchase price requires that future business income be used to repay the loan plus interest. 4. Insured Method Only life insurance can guarantee that

the cash needed to complete the sale will be available exactly when needed at the owner’s death, assuming that the business has been accurately valued. Speaking of after death, are your important documents in a place where people can find them if you became seriously ill or died? It is recommended that you keep the following documents in a secure location in your home: · Copies of wills and trusts · Copies of living wills and powers of attorneys · Income tax returns These documents are best kept in a bank safety deposit box: · Original wills, trusts and powers of attorney · Marriage certificates, birth certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates · Deeds and car titles · Military discharge papers · Any stock or bond certificates · Citizenship papers · Insurance policies

Consider giving these items to your attorney, executor and/or spouse: · Living will/medical power of attorney (original should be given to the agent named in the document) · Copies of wills, trust agreements, powers of attorney · Inventory of insurance and investments · List of professional advisors (attorney, accountant, insurance agent, etc.) · Safety deposit access information · Funeral instructions

Larry Rudwick is a business and relationship coach. For more information, visit where you can sign up for a free newsletter or listen to podcasts. Contact him through the website or call him for a free consultation at 571-331-6102.

This is a sponsored financial column. Mike Herrington is the President of Herrington Financial Services, Inc, a Registered Investment Advisor. Mike is a Certified Financial Planner licensee(CFP), a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Certified Estate Planner(CEP). He has been serving clients in the CSRA since 1984. He can be reached at 706-868-8673 or mike@


Heath’s Nationwide offices offer many years of experience By Rebecca Vigné, The South Company Chris Heath is a CSRA native. He grew up in Clearwater, S.C., attended Midland Valley High School, and went on to get his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Carolina Aiken. He chose a career in insurance because he liked the idea of serving his community. “I enjoy helping folks and working with the public,” Heath explains. Heath began his career in insurance right out of college. He worked in a local Nationwide office before venturing out to build his own business. He has worked with Nationwide for 18 years, and he has two offices located in North Augusta and Martinez. The Nationwide Life Council has awarded the Chris Heath Agency with the Champion Award every year they have been in business since 2006. The Champion Award is a leadership award that allows Nationwide to recognize agencies who achieve certain sales goals on the property and casualty side as well as the financial side. Only about 500 of the 6,000 agencies achieve this award. The agency’s top priority is doing what is best for the customer. They provide each customer with the best coverage at the best possible price. The service may be a little old-fashioned, but the Chris Heath Agency believes that there is nothing more important than serving the customers. The Chris Heath Agency team receives expert training on a regular and on-going basis in an effort to stay on top of industry changes and trends. Heath offers a full-service insurance agency made up of an experienced staff of six. The staff includes Michele Roasmilia, James Allsion, Jr., John Seals, Wendy Poss, Lori Scott, and Diane Evans. The team has more than 75 years experience in the insurance industry and the knowledgeable staff are able to provide members with the right car insurance, home insurance and business insurance to fit their needs. Heath takes pride in his work and his community. “It is important for us to take care of our customers,” he said. ”I enjoy helping customers make a claim and making sure their needs are met. We take care of our customers up front and when they really need us.” The Chris Heath Agency recently gave back to the community by participating in Fit 4 School as well as a North Augusta Elementary clean up day. In his spare time, Heath enjoys fishing, hunting and cheering on his two daughters who play softball on a traveling league. For more information on Nationwide Insurance coverage, call 803279-8046 or 706-793-4574. Chris Heath’s Nationwide offices are located at 516 Georgia Avenue in North Augusta and at 151 Davis Road in Martinez. You may also find Chris Heath’s Nationwide Agency on Facebook. December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Businessperson of the Month Isaac Kelly, Augusta Staffing

Win-Win-Win Isaac Kelly enjoys finding square pegs to fit square holes

By Gary Kauffman To say that Augusta Staffing offers employment opportunities for a wide range of services would be an understatement. “We staff for everything except building roads and shrinking heads,” said Isaac Kelly, only half-joking. Augusta Staffing and its sister companies Aiken Staffing and Job Shop creates placements in industrial and clerical, from heavy industry to office work, from medical to call centers. The placements are either directly placed on a company’s payroll, or are temporary placements, or temporary-to-permanent hire. Most fit into the latter category. The company has a solid history in the CSRA. Cynthia Kelly and Bonnie McCormick started the business in October 1979 to help people find work in a tough economy. Initially, the potential employees were the clients. In the mid-‘80s, that switched so that today the companies looking for employees are the clients. The Job Shop, the original name of the business, primarily works in finding midand high-level employees for businesses, like comptrollers, CFOs, COOs and quality supervisors. For example, a company may come to the Job Shop saying it needs three engineers and a human resources manager. Kelly and other recruiters get busy looking through candidates qualified for those positions. These will most often be direct hires. Augusta Staffing and Aiken Staffing personnel more often start as temporary and work into a full-time position on a company’s payroll. While people looking for employment are technically the clients of Augusta Staffing, the company is constantly recruiting potential employees so that when a need arises in a

company it can quickly meet that need. “We can always help people looking for work while helping our company clients,” Kelly said. “We find the square holes for the square pegs.” Kelly said that when the company helps a client find the right employee, it’s a win for the client, a win for the employee and a win for Augusta Staffing – a win-win-win. Both Cynthia Kelly and Bonnie McCormick continue to be hands-on managers in the company. It has grown to 26 staff, 18 of

those recruiters who find the potential employees. Cynthia Kelly’s twin sons, Isaac and Robert, are integral in the company’s continued success. What are you most passionate about in your business? What I’m most passionate about is getting that win-win-win situation to work. I love connecting the dots, that problem solving. It’s different every time. I sell the only product that could actually change its mind. What are the pros and cons of working

Wells Fargo team members proved that small measures add up to make a huge difference by choosing 21 non-profits across the CSRA for $1,000 grants as the Days of Giving program celebrated its fifth anniversary in Augusta. Including this year’s support, Wells Fargo has given more than $2.1 million in Days of Giving grants alone to groups across Georgia since the program began. This is just a portion of the company’s giving. In 2013, Wells Fargo gave more than $8.2 million to

groups across the state. Days of Giving allows Wells Fargo team members to honor groups helping in their local communities. “The collective work of these 21 nonprofits makes a huge impact in our communities,” said Olga Lopez, area president for Wells Fargo. “Our community has a variety of needs and we are honored to support these groups in their efforts to change Augusta for the better—one step at a time.” The following groups received their

checks on Oct. 22 at a community breakfast at the Snelling Center: • Augusta Warrior Project • Columbia County Cares • Community in Schools of Burke County • Concerned Women • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation • Fisher House Foundation • Golden Harvest Food Bank • Helping Hands, Inc. • Hope House Inc. • Jud C Hickey Foundation

with family members? One of the pros is I get to see them more often. We all handle each other professionally. The con is you’ve got to pull your own weight and more to prove that you’re not just the owner’s son. (Robert and I) pull our own weight and do 10 times what’s expected of us to get past that. I interviewed and applied for the job just like anyone else. If you didn’t work here, what would be your ideal job? I’ve always said that if this ever didn’t work out, I’d probably do something like physical therapy. I like the human aspect of getting people back to where they need to be. I think it would be the same feeling of contribution as here. Here I do ‘economic therapy,’ getting people jobs. What have you learned about yourself in this job? I’ve learned that I love people. I love the networking, I love the process of taking an idea and getting the foundation laid. I love a good challenge. One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Branson (owner of the Virgin brand): “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.” I get to help people every day. It’s hard work – late hours, early mornings, working on Saturday – but I love piecing that together, of figuring people out and connecting the dots. It’s HR on steroids. If your life had a theme song, what would it be? Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone. We used to listen to it with my mom on our way to grandma’s house. What’s in the future for you and the business? We’re focusing on how do we do what we do better and faster. Being able to offer more. We’re investigating expanding, maybe into Savannah. There are about 170 things on my work goals now, and a lot of it is the in-house process. We want the Southeast to look at us and say, look at that model. We’re also looking to do more with the skills gap with current and potential employees.

Plaque provided by Cudos4u, Awards and Promotions, your hometown favorite for Awards and Promotional Products. (706) 722-0010.

Wells Fargo awards grants to 21 CSRA non-profit groups

20 Buzz on Biz December 2014

• Men Making A Difference • Mercy Ministries • Miller Theater • Ronald McDonald House of Augusta • Safe Homes of Augusta • Savannah Riverkeeper • Shiloh Comprehensive Community Center • Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation • The Lydia Project • The RECing Crew • United Way of Aiken

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Business Online George Garner

Tenfold Return

When done right, a website is a great investment It goes without saying that the corporate website is a direct reflection of the organization. Visitors will make decisions based on their experience and perception of the corporate website as to the success and stability of the organization itself.  Organizations should invest in hiring a professional web consultant to assist them with designing a site that will achieve their goals and purpose of the site. It can’t be stressed enough the importance of understanding that web marketing is very different from traditional marketing formats. The web copy has to be user-focused and value-led. Internet users are a fickle group; they have short attention

Pat Homer

Sweet Tweets

Pick the best social media to reach your target audience Alex LaBeouf, known as Alex Lee on Twitter, was a normal everyday teenage guy just doing his job as a cashier until a teenage girl took his photo and tweeted it on Twitter, a social media platform popular with teens and younger adults. Then Alex became #AlexFromTarget. Because he is a handsome guy, other teen girls retweeted his picture until someone finally identified him. On Sunday, Nov. 2, in just a matter of hours, he had 300,000 new followers on his personal Twitter account. By Wednesday, Nov. 5, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. All of this was possible because Twitter is a very public social media platform. Because tweets can be seen by anyone, they can go viral, just like the picture of Alex, and spread like wildfire in minutes. Target’s management says

22 Buzz on Biz December 2014

spans, flicker from page to page, and are highly judgmental – holding their attention takes careful planning and execution. Done correctly, a corporate website can provide impactful value to these visitors and achieve measurable results for the organization. Likewise a poorly executed site will have an adverse and long-lasting impact on an organization. There are three factors that constitute a well-designed website. Each plays an important part in building a corporate brand and in creating a positive interactive experience for the web visitors. 1. The Design of the website should be an extension of the corporate marketing image as well as look and act in a manner that visitors expect. Web marketing is very different so hiring someone who has no direct web marketing experience can create less-thandesirable results. 2. The Content (i.e., web copy) can quickly sell ideas, concepts, products and services. A good web copy writer uses a technique called AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) to invoke the desired visitor response. Essentially it is all about writing persuasive copy that will provoke a desired response. 3. The Functionality involves the management of content created and they were not involved with the Twitter sensation. They didn’t have to be — it was done for them. For the record, another company claimed to be behind the social media blitz, but as more questions were asked, it now seems unlikely the company had any role in the viral tweet. So, how does Target benefit from all this hoopla over a tweet of a nice looking young man? In a word, exposure. In two words, free exposure. Target carries inexpensive clothing, cosmetics and accessories that are attractive to teenagers. While the picture or meme (most often a picture or image with a message or phrase inserted that is shared repeatedly over the Internet) doesn’t advertise any of those items, the Target brand is still front and center with the customers it seeks to attract. And, many teens and younger adults have lots of money to spend, so they are an important demographic for businesses that sell products or services attractive to that market. The key to successful social media marketing is to know which social media platforms attract which demographics. People often shift from one social media platform to another, as happened when many teens left Facebook when their parents started using it. Social media marketers constantly research the various platforms to see

accessed via the website. Creating appropriate mechanisms that ensure that the content fits into the design format approved for the site, meets corporate rules of subject and style formats, and is current are just a few of the concerns that need to be addressed by a content management system. What are the Pitfalls of a Poorly Designed Website? First impressions are often the longest lasting and this holds true with corporate websites as well. If creating a great website is centered on making the visitor the focus of attention, what happens when you do not achieve this goal? Unfortunately, it leads to poor SEO rankings and damages the company’s brand – leading to a loss in consumer confidence across the entire organization. The bottom line is that good web copy sells and a good web copy writer is worth his or her weight in gold. Unfortunately many organizations fail to realize this. To effectively communicate and market to website visitors organizations must speak the same language to make the visitors feel comfortable and give them the impression that the focus is on understanding and catering to their desires and needs. Identifying with the visitor corresponds directly to the design flow of

the website as well. Websites that are not well organized and difficult to navigate create a whole set of problems for visitor retention. Limit the special effects such as flash animation that can take a long time to download a page and ultimately encourage the visitor to limit their experience and exploration of your website. Building a website is not an inexpensive venture but, if done correctly, your initial investment should return back to you tenfold. Without a website, a business is missing out on the growing number of customers who search online for products and services. In order to get value for your business from your website it is imperative that it is kept up to date and interesting. Regular updates, added information, testimonials and new images can achieve this – in other words, good content. George Garner is owner and founder of Brilliant Wealth Concepts. He is an educator and advocate for the success of your business and customers. His mission is to ensure all small businesses have a well designed website and marketing strategy to strengthen their brand and maximize profits. For a complimentary analysis of your website, please email support@ or visit

Who is Alex from Target, and why should you care?

which platforms offer the best fit for the businesses they represent. To reach your customers and to attract new customers, your business should be on the platforms where your customers hang out. Marketers have discovered the value of Twitter outreach, and now 86 percent of marketers also use it as a part of their social media marketing strategy. Second only to Facebook, Twitter is popular with businesses. Of the Fortune Global 100 companies, 77 have at least one official corporate Twitter account. But Twitter is not just for the “big guys” like Target. Businesses of all sizes can reach out to customers using Twitter. Connecting to customers on Twitter is significant because 64 per-

cent of Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands they follow. Twitter is an excellent social media platform for small- to medium-sized businesses. If your product or service appeals to teens and younger adults in any way, your business should definitely be on Twitter. Provide great customer service and interact with your customers, and your business might benefit from the next meme sensation. Pat Homer is Vice President of Social Media Communications at SocialPAJE, a Social Media Management and Branding company. Contact SocialPAJE at (706) 564-4135 or Also visit or search for us on any of the social media platforms.

Many do little research on health insurance Selecting the right health insurance plan may be one of the most important decisions Americans will make this open enrollment period, yet many workers do very little research on their health benefits. In fact, 41 percent of employees spent 15 minutes or less researching their benefit options during the 2013 open enrollment season; and nearly a quarter (24 percent) spent five minutes or less according to the newlyreleased 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey. The 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey was conducted online among 2,100 U.S. consumers in June and  July 2014  by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the leading provider of supplemental insurance in  the United States. In contrast, American workers typically spend more time: Researching for new car purchases — 10 hours. Planning family vacations — five hours. Shopping for new computers — four hours. Deciding what television to buy — two hours. Considering that employees pay an average of $4,565 a year in premiums for an employer-sponsored health plan which helps protect their financial well-being as well as those of their loved ones, the 15 minutes allocated to benefits selections pales in comparison to time spent researching popular

consumer purchases. “It’s concerning to learn that many Americans invest time in finding the right television, but may not be taking enough time to choose health benefits that best fit their needs and the needs of their families,” said Matthew Owenby, vice president of Human Resources at Aflac. “It’s important for workers to educate themselves about their health care options to ensure they select the right insurance coverage that provides protection and avoids costly mistakes down the road.” Common Enrollment Mistakes Those who don’t set aside time to research their insurance options may make hasty benefits decisions and end up wasting money. The Aflac survey found that the majority (90 percent) of workers are “autoenrolling” or keeping the same benefits year after year. And, 4 in 10 (42 percent) workers waste up to $750 each year on mistakes with their insurance benefits. The survey also revealed: Most workers (73 percent) only sometimes, rarely or never understand everything that is covered by their policy. More than 6 out of 10 workers (64 percent) sometimes, rarely or never understand changesin their coverage. Sixty-four percent disagree or only somewhat agree that they are more prepared for open enrollment this year com-

pared to last year. Take Advantage of Benefits Education Resources To be prepared for open enrollment this year, it’s essential for workers to be proactive and take advantage of the benefits education resources available to them. To minimize confusion during the benefits selection process, Owenby suggests the following: Carefully review and compare all available benefits information. Take time to look up terms you don’t understand such as voluntary insurance, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and others.

Understand the financial implications your choices have on your budget. In addition to monthly premiums, make sure you can afford the yearly deductible costs. If a high deductible looks like it may be a burden, choose a plan with a slightly higher monthly premium and a lower deductible that is easier to manage. Ask your employer to arrange meetings with health care insurance agents or brokers to answer questions. Attend on-site seminars, participate in webinars and read the relevant education materials.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Deeper Thinking Don MacNeil

Fool Me Once...

Decency a victim of election ads – and we’re to blame Shame on us. Shame on us for allowing – in the name of free speech – the wholesale and very public plundering of truth and decency that just passed for a mid-term election. No, I’m not the slightest bit interested in your politics. Not interested in mine, either. We’re addressing the larger issue that we as a nation now accept with only passing annoyance the eight-week onslaught of twisted-fact commercials driven by breathtaking amounts of money, resulting in unproductive, fractious governance. On the face of it, the back-and-forth commercial sniping typically unleashes charges so heinous that, if actually true, should result in arrests. Most of us find the twisting of these so-called “facts” laughable until we realize these committees-to-elect and super-PACs are serious. Well, serious with their fingers crossed.

Eddie Kennedy

A Daily Win

Coach’s winning strategies work in the business world As an entrepreneur and business leader, I read all kinds of books to find ideas and ways to lead and motivate my employees. One of my favorite books is Winning Every Day by Lou Holtz. While this is not written as a business book, Holtz’s Game Plan for Success could help you improve your business and your life. Each step of the plan is explained and defined by stories and life events in Holtz’s football coaching career. Let’s look at three of his steps that you could implement

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Are they aware that those of us who got beyond the fifth grade probably had to study the dynamics of propaganda and fact manipulation somewhere along the line, and so see right through the deceptive copywriting in these political ads? If the answer is “yes,” then all of these millions are being spent to persuade the underinformed – the Ma and Pa Kettles among us who believe, as our parents naively once did, that if the information comes from TV it must be correct. I can’t help but feel that kind of exploitation of the unsophisticated exposes a level of cynicism the Founding Fathers never anticipated. If the answer is “no” – that all of us swallow whole every word of these charades – then the forces that drive these ads are out of touch and planted firmly in their own reality. Factor in, too, that these commercials are being conceived and written by people with probably no actual dog in the hunt but who want to look like heroes to their clients, the politicians. I often joke about guys in my line of work having an awkward time with St. Peter someday, but this seems way beyond that. And the collateral damage? Did you try to get a TV commercial to play locally during September and October? Did you pay what looked like a 40 percent premium to normal rates to do it? Federal law giving campaigns unlimited access plus the law of supply/ demand conspired to push many of us

immediately in your business and take your team’s performance to the next level. Every Victory Is Won Before the Game Is Played: The Power of Attitude We have heard how important your attitude is to your success, but Holtz drives home the point that a good positive attitude is the key to your success. He says, “Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.” You are responsible for your own attitude. You control it. As the business owner and team leader, your attitude impacts everyone. If you don’t believe you can do something, how can you expect the team to believe they will be able to do it? Spend time encouraging your employees and help build their attitude and it will strengthen your team and improve their overall performance. Put the Why Before the Where or What: Sense of Purpose Getting everyone on the same page, going in the same direction and working toward the same goal is not an easy task for a coach or an entrepreneur. You must communicate why you do what

local businesses off the air. And forgive me, but if you found yourself cheering for “your” commercials and booing the opposition’s, then you’re in this mix, too. I’m well aware that anyone taking exception with this view would surely make the case that laws enacted to curb this abomination would invariably run roughshod over cherished freedoms.

The cure being worse than the disease, and all that. They’re probably right. Still, shame on us.

you do. Keep the business and everyone in it focused on that purpose. As the leader, one of your main functions is to point everyone to the goal. Define it clearly and keep it in front of the employees. When an employee gets

off track, quickly bring them back to the reason the business exists, which is your purpose for being. Are You Committed to Excellence? Holtz says, “The standards you set for yourself are the real measures of your dedication.” Are you willing to give everything you have to what you do? If not, you are allowing mediocrity into your business. As the business leader, every employee is watching you. They will do what you do, not what you say to do. Excellence is not being perfect. Excellence is doing better and better. Commit yourself and your business to excellence. Give everyone an opportunity to help achieve the standard of excellence you have determined to have. Apply these steps and watch your business or team improve and grow.

Winning Every Day by Lou Holtz 208 pages Amazon $24.52

Don MacNeil is a traditional media expert, working at Crown Point Communications at Windsor Jewelers. He has spent more than 30 years on-air and behind the scenes in media and marketing. If you have any comments or questions, email him at

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

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Business Feature

Metro Market brings uniqueness to downtown Market is a combo convenience store, cafe, caterer and more By Alexandrea Daitch Metro Market opened its doors August 22, and has been knocking people’s socks off ever since. “Everyone says, when they walk in here, that they feel like they aren’t in Augusta anymore,” said Anna Felz, director of mar-

keting for Sprint Foods and Metro Market. This locally-owned franchise offers a variety of products and services unique to downtown Augusta. The downstairs area features a barista, a café, a wine and beer section and a frozen yogurt section, plus a convenience store.

In the café Metro Market offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. All orders are placed through a digital ordering system, which allows the individual customers to personalize their food selections. Once you get your food, Metro Market provides outdoor or indoor seating with a view of Augusta Common. “We are the first convenience-style store in the country to have a Coca Cola freestyle machine,” Felz said. For those over 21, Metro Market also sells wine and beer. “We house up to 60 varieties of white, red, rosé, and champagne,” Felz said. “Our beer is by the singles, the mix and match or by the pack.” One unique aspect of the beer and wine sales is that you can buy it and enjoy a glass of it while sitting at Metro Market. Metro Market is willing to adjust its offerings based on customers’ suggestions. “We are open to evolving our inventory,” Felz said. “We already have had customers say ‘Oh, I wish you sold oatmeal or eggs.’ We now have oatmeal in the store and we are working on getting eggs. We are really trying to be the one-stop shop for people who live here.” Head upstairs and you enter a beautiful terrace that overlooks the commons. “People always ooh and ah about the up-

stairs terrace,” Felz said. “There really isn’t anything else like this downtown.” The Metro Market also has a private room that can be rented for conferences, business training, parties and other events. Metro Market provides catering to your location as well as in-house catering. Cater-

ing allows patrons to try some things not on the regular menu. “Some of the menu items are available,” Felz said. “However, there are a lot of specialty items that you can only get through catering such as hors d’oeuvres, party platters, hot-plated meals, box lunch meals, etc. Just a lot of variety.” Metro Market not only offers deals when renting out their services, they also offer values and specials inside the market, such as Wine Wednesdays. Wines are half-off any glass and bottles are 10 percent off. Another way to snag great deals is to check out the Sprint Foods App. When you download the app you get a free fountain drink or a free coffee. The app is constantly updated with new promotions. Metro Market is Sprint’s new hybrid and with the success so far Sprint is looking to revamp its other stores to incorporate similar things they are offering in Metro Market.

CDK Global plans to bring office, employees downtown The Augusta Economic Development Authority announced in October that CDK Global, formerly ADP Dealer Services, will begin operations in downtown Augusta with 90 employees by the end of the year. The company will occupy two floors of the Wells Fargo Building at the corner of Broad Street and Seventh Street. Construction is currently underway to remodel the 15,000-square-feet of space to accommodate CDK Global. The 90 employees are currently operating from the former

26 Buzz on Biz December 2014

ADP Dealers Services space on Flowing Wells Road in Augusta. The new space will allow for additional employees to be added to the CDK total employment in Augusta, and those new jobs are expected to be created within the year. In searching for a new location for CDK Global, the company wanted a location that would be central to the company’s current mission of providing upscale customer service. Three other locations in AugustaRichmond County were considered before

the company decided on the Wells Fargo Building. With nearly $2 billion in revenues and more than 40 years of experience, CDK Global is the largest provider of integrated information technology and digital marketing solutions to more than 26,000 retail locations and manufacturers in more than 100 countries. The company automates and integrates critical workflow processes and will also focus on utilized data analytics and predictive intelligence.

Henry Ingram, Chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, said, “We were pleased to bring ADP to Augusta in late 2006 and have watched their phenomenal growth in the community, with more than 1,000 employees currently employed. The spinoff of CDK Global from ADP’s Dealer Services Division is great news for Augusta and especially downtown. Today’s announcement by CDK Global solidifies the claim that Augusta has the best workforce in the south.”

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Career and Education

Many vets still in jobs below skill levels Work continues in bridging gap to civilian jobs

A new University of Phoenix national military survey suggests that while the veteran unemployment rate continues to decline, many veterans may actually be underemployed. A majority (61 percent) of past service members who have held civilian jobs say they have previously been or currently are in jobs beneath their skill sets, with nearly three-quarters (72 percent) saying they accepted a position because they were unemployed and needed a job. Forty-two percent of past service members who are currently employed say they are working in jobs today that are beneath their skill sets. The online survey of more than 1,000 adults who are serving or have served in a branch of the U.S. military was conducted on behalf of University of Phoenix by Harris Poll in October 2014. “Service members cultivate skills in the military that are invaluable to civilian employers,” said University of Phoenix Military Relations Vice President and ret. Army Colonel Garland Williams. “Veterans bring diverse experience to the workplace, but may not know how to specifically market the skills they gained in the military for civilian jobs, and employers may not instinctively know how the skills translate. The good news is there are significant national efforts underway to help bridge this gap, including some exciting veteran employment programs developed by corporate America.” Job Search and Transition The survey finds that only one-third (34 percent) of veterans made a transition plan

for returning to civilian life after separation from the military. Veterans specifically identify the following actions that were difficult when transitioning to the civilian workforce after separating from the military: • Connecting/networking with hiring managers: 55 percent • Finding employment that was suitable for them: 57 percent • Deciding what career path to pursue: 54 percent  • Promoting their individual skills and accomplishments to an employer after working in a team environment: 46 percent  • Translating skills learned in the military to the requirements of civilian jobs: 44 percent • Demonstrating to employers how their skills from their military service can be valuable in a civilian job: 44 percent  • Finding any type of employment: 45 percent  • Adjusting to the dynamics inside civil-

ian companies/organizations: 41 percent On an encouraging note, the survey indicates that more service members today understand the need to have an action plan to make a successful transition. In fact, more than three-in-five (62 percent) of those currently on active duty say they have made a transition plan. “It is so important for our men and women in uniform who are finishing their military tenure to start early with the transition process,” said Williams. “Service members should research careers, determine necessary skills and talk to others who have made the transition to help ensure they find career options that maximize their unique skill sets.” Translating Military Skills to Civilian Jobs The national focus on military hiring and the lower unemployment rates may be spurring more confidence among active duty service members that their skills will translate to civilian jobs. In fact, four-in-five (81 percent) active duty service members

believe that a great deal or a lot of the skills they developed in the military will be used in civilian jobs once they separate from active duty, which is nearly twice the percentage (45 percent) who indicated this in the 2013 survey. However, when past service members were asked about their first civilian jobs after separation from the military, less than one-third (29 percent) say that they used their military skills to that extent in the civilian workplace. “Advanced planning can help service members think critically about how to best position their skills and experience to meet the specific needs of employers,” said Williams. “The military has a ‘we’ vs. ‘me’ mentality that benefits employers who hire veterans. However, the focus on teamwork can also lead service members to minimize their personal achievements in interviews and on resumes. In this highly competitive job market, service members need to be prepared to promote their accomplishments and make direct connections between their experience and the skills required for specific jobs.” Education Many active duty service members and veterans recognize the benefits of education in closing skills gaps. In fact, nine-in-ten active duty service members are currently pursuing education or plan to go back to school at some point. More than one-third (35 percent) are currently doing so and 37 percent plan to go back to school within the next two years. “Education can help service members build on their already solid skills to prepare for civilian careers,” said Williams. “At University of Phoenix, we guide our military students to understand how their education aligns with career paths and help them translate skills acquired through military experience into viable credits that can be applied to their degrees.”

Survey finds student loan debt continues to increase Consumer debt is decreasing in every major consumer lending category – except student loans, according to a survey by Experion. Student loans increased by 84 percent since the recession (from 2008 to 2014) and surpassed home equity loans/lines of credit, credit card and automotive debt. Experian, the leading global information services company, analyzed student loan trends spanning from 2008 through 2014 in the United States. Student Loan Growth  Some of the key findings from a national perspective include: • 40 million consumers have a least one open student loan • There are 3.7 open student loans per consumer • The average balance of these loans per consumer is $29,000 • The average balance per loan is $9,000 “What is a really compelling statistic is that the average person has nearly four student loans,” said Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics, Experian. “Student loans are the only credit vehicle where a lender continues to extend credit year after year without knowing the person’s ability, or even

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The average person has nearly four student loans

willingness, to pay. The borrower may not yet have had the chance to demonstrate positive payment behaviors, which is a criteria used in other types of lending scenarios.” Student loans can help build and establish credit history for young adults The study took a closer look at the younger generation and found that there are 13 million consumers ages 18–34 that have at least one open student loan. The average VantageScore credit score of those consumers is 640, which is 20 points higher than the average for that age group. That group also on average made $8,000 more per year and was more likely to have a home mortgage. Student loan debt at all time high Overall, the total amount of student-loan debt has reached an all-time high of $1.2 trillion. Currently, of all of

the open student-loan accounts, 39 percent ($417 billion) are in deferment and 61 percent ($727 billion) are in repayment. Deferment is the period during which the consumer is typically not obligated to pay, and repayment is the period in which the borrower pays back the funds by making scheduled payments. Of the consumers who are currently in the repayment stage, their average payment is $279 per consumer. “Keep in mind that a student loan is a debt obligation just like any other,” said Rod Griffin, director of public education, Experian. “Once that loan is open, the lender may begin reporting it to the credit reporting companies. Missing payments affects your credit just like any other debt. Payment history is the most important factor in credit scores.” Regional insights Further findings in the study compared 90-plus day delinquencies of student loan payments from a regional perspective and found the state with the most delinquencies was Mississippi and the state with the fewest delinquencies was Massachusetts.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Career and Education Georgia Military celebrates 135 years, 40 years in Augusta Georgia Military College celebrated its 135th Anniversary in early November. The Augusta campus was established 40 years ago, with its first class offerings at Fort Gordon. Today, GMC hosts classes at both Fort Gordon and Martinez with a student population of nearly 1,300 students. “We have enhanced the lives of Georgians for 135 years,” Dean of Students and Assistant Campus Director Leia Bowman said. “This is a proud heritage! As we look into the future, we are eager to provide stellar educational opportunities for future generations.” GMC was established in 1879 by act of the Georgia General Assembly and was originally called Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College. In 1900, the name of the school was changed to Georgia Military College. Georgia’s former Capitol Building in Milledgeville, then as now, serves as the centerpiece of the main campus and sits on the highest point within the Milledgeville city limits. In 1880, the school’s first session opened with 219 male and female students. Doctor W. S. Dudley, the school’s first president, guided this class. In 1950, the War Department desig-

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nated GMC a “Military Junior College.” Today, GMC is one of only five United States Military Junior Colleges and has been designated by the Georgia General Assembly as ‘The Military Junior College of Georgia.’ GMC is the alma mater to many distinguished graduates including actor Oliver Hardy; aviation pioneer Bert Atkinson; pioneering pediatric surgeon Dr. Alfred Blalock; U.S. Secretary of Labor W.J. Usery, Jr.; football coach Bill Yoast; and Georgia Governor George Busbee. For more than a century, graduates have fought in world conflicts including the Spanish-American War, World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi War and the Afghanistan Conflict. Many alumni have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Today, in keeping with its founding principles, GMC—a liberal arts junior college— strives to reduce barriers to higher education. The school strives to make it easier for students with modest means to earn a college degree and to evolve a curriculum to meet an array of personal, economic, and societal needs.

Identity thieves target college students Information sharing has become second-nature to many college students who have grown up in an era of social media, smartphones and widely available internet access. Unfortunately, this also makes students more susceptible as a target for scams and fraud. Identity thieves look to college-age adults because they often have good, clean credit scores. Young adults are also prime targets, not just because of their willingness to share information online, but also the high number of forms and applications they are required to fill out. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 2013 Consumer Sentinel Network  report, 20 percent of identity theft complaints were from 20-29 year olds. There were 39,335 young adults that fell victim to identity theft in 2013. The Better Business Bureau offers these simple steps college students can take to protect their identity: Secure your mail. Campus mailboxes are often easily accessed in a dorm or apartment. Have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address such as your parents’ home or invest in a secure post office box. Shred all paper documents that contain sensitive financial information and any credit card offers that come in the mail.

Store personal items safely. You may want to invest in a lock box or locking file cabinet to store your social security card, passport, financial statements and any other private documents. Safeguard your personal information. Don’t share your information with anyone without knowing why it’s needed. Most schools now use a student identification number instead of a social security number for added protection.  Check your financial statements frequently. Look for any suspicious activity or purchases on financial accounts. Fraudulent purchases can sometimes come in small amounts which means it’s important to keep a close eye on accounts. Report any suspicious transactions to your financial institution immediately. Check your credit report at least once a year. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three free credit reporting agencies. Georgia residents can receive two free reports.  Request a copy of your report and look for any unusual activity or inaccuracies. If you are concerned about identity theft you can report and dispute errors or suspicious activity to your credit providers and notify each of the three credit bureaus.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Health and Fitness Katie Silarek

the word effective? This goes back to getting off the rollercoaster. Training involves doing the right amount of cardio with the right amount of strength training and a balanced meal plan. Yes, I said meal plan, not diet. All whole foods – foods that come from the land – play a role in our weight loss and muscle gain. A balanced meal plan means you eat the right carbs at the right time, the right proteins that will assist in getting you the body you seek and the right vegetables to give you the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Nutrition is 90 percent of your weight loss program. You cannot outtrain a bad diet! Trends are passing when it comes to getting fit. The definition of a trend is what is hip or popular at a certain time and we all know trends come and go. Your life of being fit should not come and go. Fitness is not a trend; it is a lifestyle!

Why Wait?

Don’t put off getting fit until after the holidays If you decided to take a road trip from Augusta to Los Angeles, you could take any road that pointed west and eventually get there, possibly after weeks of driving. Or you could look at a road map, plan out the most efficient routes and get there in a matter of days. When it comes to fitness, too many people merely point at the general direction of where they want to be and hope to get there eventually. But by creating a fitness plan, you can arrive at your destination more efficiently and in less time. In my four-plus years in the health and wellness world I have heard of every reason why someone is not ready to start a fitness plan, especially in the months of October to December. “I’ll wait till the New Year to lose weight, to go on a ‘diet,’ to join a gym.” But why is that? You want to look your best during the holidays as well in the summer months. Here is my answer: Society has been on the weight rollercoaster for years with fad diets and fad exercise programs. Better yet, take a pill to lose weight! It is time for society to get off the rollercoaster and learn how you can have your cake and eat it, too. When we train our bodies to work for us instead of against us we can go into the holidays with confidence that we will not gain weight, we will not have to make another “lose weight” resolution and we will be able to enjoy the holidays stress free. There are two ways people attack their weight loss programs in a gym – those who work out and those who train. You may be thinking, isn’t that the same thing? No! When someone decides to work out they walk into a gym, get on cardio equipment and look to see what everyone else is doing. They may read an article that tells

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them what they should do to work out or they copycat what someone else is doing because they like the way that person looks. But they have not learned the right plan that will help them reach their goals. The key word here is plan. In order to make a life change when it comes to our health and wellness we have to make a plan. We have to train. This is what I like to call conditioning. Conditioning, in physiology, is a behavioral process whereby a response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement, with reinforcement typically being a stimulus or reward for a desired response, i.e. the changes we see in our outward appearance and how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally. When we train we lay out a plan, a fitness map, on how we are going to get from where we are to where we want to go, much like in the example at the

start of this column about traveling from Augusta to L.A. When we train we lay out the road map to get us from unhealthy to healthy. We take the right steps to get us there in the most effective way. Why do I use

Katie Silarek has been a personal trainer for four years and is the owner of Be Bella Fitness Boutique in Martinez. She became interested in fitness after struggling to get back in shape after the birth of her youngest child. Her goal is to help people develop training plans and to live healthy lifestyles. She wants to inspire men and women who don’t know where to start, what to do or are scared to fail. For more information, call her at 706-589-4113.

Kroc Center updates equipment In an effort to better serve its members, the Kroc Center installed new cardio equipment on Nov. 6 and 7. “The Kroc Center is only 3 years old, and we are already installing all new fitness equipment – what a tribute to our commitment to keep the Kroc Center one of Augusta’s centerpieces of community spirit,” said Major Tony Perez. The Kroc Center installed 29 new machines, including seven Life Fitness Elliptical Cross Trainers, featuring consoles compatible with Apple and Android smartphones; three Life Fitness

Recumbent Bikes, featuring 16’ touchscreens; two Life Fitness Upright Bikes, which simulate the feel of a road bike while providing exercisers with easy adjustments and resistance controls; 14 Life Fitness Treadmills, equipped with FlexDeck shock absorption systems and three PreCor AMTs (Adaptive Motion Trainers), allowing users to climb, cycle, and jog in one machine All Life Fitness equipment is compatible with the LFOpen app, which permits users to build custom workouts.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Business Lunch Review SOY NOODLE HOUSE Alexandrea Daitch

Big Memories

Food makes Soy Noodle House top pick for lunch “Hey, remember the soup bowl that was the size of half a soccer ball?” Have you ever experienced something one day and then days or weeks later you are still talking about. For me, the soup bowl that contained my Pho soup at Soy Noodle House was that experience. “You certainly do not get cheated on the servings,” my

Firecracker Tofu

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coworker said, wide-eyed when he saw the huge bowl that my soup came in. The Pho soup is a Vietnamese beef noodle soup, made from a hearty beef broth with sliced beef and rice noodles, served with fresh bean sprouts, basil, cilantro and lime. This bowl of soup was so enormous that it could easily feed three adults. That being said, this soup is absolutely what everyone should eat when they are sick. The broth is delicious and when you combine the basil, cilantro and lime you cannot go wrong. The food we enjoyed at Soy Noodle House is beyond notable, especially their Firecracker Tofu. This $5 dollar sensation is off the charts. It is a starter but a large enough portion that with a side of rice you could have it as your meal. My business colleagues couldn’t believe it was tofu! The entire time all I kept hearing was “great spices” and “the batter is just right.” Normally, spicy foods leave an after taste that can make the food less enjoyable. The Firecracker Tofu, however, always leaves a happy after spice, which is delightful and doesn’t have me looking rapidly for my beverage. One of my business colleagues ordered the spicy Thai basil noodles, which contains peppers, bean sprouts, mixed greens and rice noodles, all tossed with basil and garlic chili sauce. My coworker added chicken to this hearty mix, and surprisingly said that the chicken lacked spice. The noodles were on point, but the chicken didn’t have the kick he was expecting. My other colleague ordered the Banh-Mi, a sandwich filled with flavor-

The large bowl of Pho soup

ful Vietnamese roasted pork, cucumber, pickled carrots and cilantro. This sandwich hits everything in the book. It is portioned so perfectly that every bite is filled with flavor and each component of the sandwich. Soy Noodle House is known as local downtown hot spot for a great night atmosphere, offering a great food and drink scene. It offers a surprisingly fantastic environment for a business lunch meeting as well. Aside from the food, the service was above par. The servers that I have had

Thai Basil Noodles

a Soy Noodle House do a fantastic job of knowing the right times to approach the table. The layout of the restaurant is unique and one must be strategic in where they sit because some areas tend to be a tad darker then others. The temperature plays a big part in my enjoyment of the meal. It was lovely and the music choice was off the chain. I am a huge fan of oldies and classic rock, and they did not let me down. My only complaint with the music is that it was a bit too loud, which made it difficult to focus on the conversation at the table. Soy Noodle House should definitely be on everyone’s radar when thinking about places to meet downtown for a business lunch. Not to mention that currently they are the lone downtown restaurant that offers sushi. You will not only receive great service and accomplish your business tasks but you will leave there with an experience that is memorable, and maybe even lead to exaggerated memories: “Hey, remember the soup bowl that was the size of a semi-truck tire?”


Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe brings sweet taste to downtown Aiken

By Ashley Campbell, The South Company When Cynthia Rudisill and her husband, Dick, made the move from New York to Aiken, she said the last thing on her mind was starting a business. Then, her husband came to her with the desire to open Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe. Together, they developed the idea and transformed the space on Laurens Street in Aiken into anything but your typical candy shop. “I think that we have over a thousand different candies,” Rudisill said. With the holiday season underway, Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe is offering a creative twist on gifts. Going to a party? Rudisill says opt for something local and sweet. This holiday, Cynthia is adding a piece of Aiken history to go along with her pieces of holiday candy and chocolate. “This year, we’re doing small and large tins and we’re putting the iconic South Boundary scene on top of the tin so you can take the piece of nostalgia home with you,” she said. The cost of tins range from $15 to $45, depending on how you fill them. Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe is located at 146 Laurens Street SW in the heart of downtown Aiken. You can give them a call at 803-226-0191.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Sports and Leisure Glenn Campbell

The Big Finish

Harvick’s win caps an exciting NASCAR season

With the 2014 NASCAR Championship now in the record books, I’ll have to say that this year’s version of the Chase has been one of the most exciting that I’ve covered in quite some time. Till Sunday, the most memorable NASCAR Championship battle was certainly my first in 1992. That was the year when Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison and Bill Elliott all had a mathematical chance of winning the trophy. I remember that Allison had the lead in the standings entering the event but crashed in the early laps. That left Elliott and Kulwicki to battle it out for the crown. Elliott led the most laps and won the race but Kulwicki finished second to capture his only NASCAR Cup Series Championship. However, this year’s Chase has topped that, in my opinion, with more excitement over the last 10 races than I can remember. The quartet of drivers that entered the final race was a diverse group and each had their own story as to how they got there. Leading the quartet was the veteran Kevin Harvick. As you know, Harvick broke on the scene as the successor

to Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s ride at RCR after his unfortunate death at Daytona in 2000. Harvick had big shoes to fill and he wore them proudly. The only thing that he had not done in the sport is win a championship, until Sunday. “You lay it all out on paper and you say, this is what we want to do and we want to race for wins and championships,” said Harvick on his previous Championship attempts. “All of a sudden you’re a week away from everything that you talk about and dream about and dream up and want it to be like, and here we are.” It wasn’t an easy win for the first year Stewart-Haas Racing driver but a fast car and some luck at the end helped propel him to victory in both the race and Championship. “In the end, it’s really about the people,” said an excited Harvick after the event. “I can drive the car, but these guys have made some bold decisions, whether it be on the pit box tonight, changing the pit crew, whatever it may be. You get to be a part of something from the beginning, and for me that was what I was looking for.” As Harvick basked in his first Championship press conference, three other drivers fell short in their quest for the title but still had plenty of reason to hold their heads high. Ryan Newman finished one position short of winning his first title at Richard Childress Racing and knew that the future looks bright for his new race team. “We came back for the entire season to make our best finish our last finish,” observed an exhausted Newman. “It is

Kevin Harvick celebrates his victory in The Chase. Photo courtesy Chris Graythen, Getty Images

disappointing, don’t get me wrong, but there’s no point in being a sore loser. It’s some motivation, some momentum for the off-season to get started for Daytona, and just look forward to the opportunity for next year.” Denny Hamlin also ran upfront for most of the night but a few bad breaks in the closing laps thwarted his championship run. Still he was philosophical with a third-place finish. “We had a car that was capable of winning today,” explained Denny. “We know that. Our effort was 100 percent. It’s just that the breaks didn’t quite work out for us.” Joey Logano was the youngest of the four contenders for the title but an error on pit road cost him dearly in his quest to finish ahead of his older competitors. “We knew coming into this race you can’t afford to make one mistake and put yourself behind. We just made a couple tonight which put us back. Ob-

viously our pit crew has done a good job this year. I’m not putting them down over one thing. It just was bad timing on one of them.” Despite the excitement of having the four championship contenders running in the top four positions for most of the closing laps, there are still those that don’t like the new Chase. That comes mostly from the fact that their driver wasn’t one of the four. However, I can tell you from my point of view and I’ve covered this sport since 1992, this was one of the most exciting race seasons I’ve ever seen. Congratulations to Kevin Harvick on winning his first NASCAR Cup Championship and now we turn our attention to the banquet in a few weeks, then the off season fun begins. Glenn Campbell is a syndicated columnist and radio and TV show host. For more information, visit

Champions Retreat under new ownership The Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans has a new owner. Tower Three Partners and its affiliate, Heritage Golf Group, announced several weeks ago that it had acquired the course. Heritage Golf Group (, established in 1999, is a leading owner and operator of premier private, resort and daily fee golf properties across the United States. The Heritage portfolio represents some of the most well-known and acclaimed golf properties spanning Florida, South Carolina, and Texas. The company, led by Bob Husband and Davis Sezna, Managing Partners, distinguishes itself through its dedication to “Unrivaled Golf, Uncompromising Service, and Unforgettable Experiences” with over 150 years of collective experience as business professionals and golfers. In April 2014, Heritage Golf Group was recapitalized by an investment from Tower Three Partners. Champions Retreat Golf Club is the only golf facility in the world with courses

36 Buzz on Biz December 2014

designed by Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player. Residing within a secluded enclave inside a gated community, the private club offers three remarkable 9-hole courses sculpted from nearly 1,200 acres of Georgia pines, hardwoods and numerous wetlands along the Savannah River. Known for its natural beauty, these golf courses, combined with luxury golf cottages and amenities, provide members and their guests with the ultimate private golf retreat. “It is a privilege to acquire Champions

Retreat Golf Club,” said managing partner Davis Sezna. “It is an incredibly rare property that will enable us to create a truly unique experience in a world of unique experiences. With Champions Retreat, our plan is to evolve the private country club experience to the highest level – on the cutting edge of tradition – by honoring the current traditions while enhancing and elevating the member experience to new levels.” To deliver on this promise, the company is expanding the Heritage Golf Group Executive Team, recruiting world-renowned talent, like Alan Weime, to fill the new hospitality-focused position of Corporate Director of Food & Beverage. Weime will be based out of Champions Retreat where he will develop and refine “The Grille House” experience. “As our company further expands and elevates its portfolio of “best-in-class” golf properties through strategic acquisitions and capital investments, we are closer and

closer to realizing our vision of providing unrivaled golf and uncompromising service,” said Bob Husband, Managing Partner of Heritage Golf Group and recently ranked as one of the “Most Powerful People in Golf ” (Golf Inc., Fall 2014 Issue). “Champions Retreat Golf Club is an excellent fit with our continued overall growth strategy to invest in distinguished, quality golf properties while building a dream team of hospitality, lodging, food and beverage and golf ambassadors.” Champions Retreat offers specialized, custom-built golf cottages (featuring four or eight master suites) for a discerning clientele. With the recent acquisition, Champions Retreat is creating prime, private golf cottage plots for corporations and individuals to purchase near the Golf Village. The Golf Village is designed to emulate the simple relaxed lifestyle for which a southern plantation is known, while the golf cottages are unique, each with its own charm and personality.

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


Humor Nora Blithe

Burn Notice

Substitute stylist leads to hairy experience I was on my way to a hair appointment. Getting my hair done is one of my favorite hobbies but this wasn’t just any hair appointment. In one week, I had a very important meeting for work. Getting my hair done under these circumstances wasn’t just fun, it was professional. I’m responsible like that. This time, though, I harbored a bit of apprehension. My regular stylist was out of town. Ordinarily, I’d have waited for her return and worn a baseball hat until she did. However, work circumstances made a relief stylist necessary. I was sure it would be fine. Naturally, I was wrong.

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Things started off bad. “We don’t have your same color,” the stylist told me. “I can use this similar color to touch up your roots then pull it through the rest of your hair in highlights to make it blend.” I’m funny about my hair. Perhaps because it’s on the top of my head and that’s what people see first. I didn’t want to use a similar color. I wanted to use the same exact color but my roots were showing badly and something had to be done before my meeting. Reluctantly, I agreed. Then, the stylist criticized the cut my regular stylist had done. She suggested cutting several inches off my hair. I drew the line. I know my regular stylist gives great cuts. I limited her to a trim. I began to dread what my hair would look like when the girl was done but I had no choice. I had to have a trim before my meeting. I just hoped my hair wouldn’t look worse for my meeting. When she was done, I was relieved I hadn’t agreed to let her cut off four inches. The color job was patchy. The cut was chunky and styleless. She had the audacity to charge me more than my regular stylist for less than half the work. I positively seethed when I left.

The next day I attempted to style the mountain of shaggy hair the incompetent stylist had left me. I was distracted by how much I hated it and how desperate I was for my regular stylist to return. Then, I smelled something burning. I swore and flung down my hair dryer. I had burned my hair. Charred bits floated down and landed on my shoulder, the sink and the floor. Dreading what I would find, I brushed it out.

The haircut was so bad; I couldn’t tell what part was burned. Under ordinary circumstances I might have cried. Instead, I burst out laughing. I wondered if I could pull off a baseball hat at that meeting after all. Nora Blithe is an Augusta native, an entrepreneur and a syndicated humor columnist. She lives in Greenville, S.C., with her husband, Brian, and their pets. Read her syndicated humor column Life Face First in Verge, or find her online at

December 2014 Buzz on Biz


40 Buzz on Biz December 2014

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