Page 1

Kevin & Christie Merrill

Stan Cross & Matthew Johnson

Oxbow River Snorkeling p.16

Brightfield Transportation Solutions p.72

Western North Carolina's Free Spirit of Enterprise colu m ns

 The Mother of

Good Luck (Part 1)

Pre-Closing Due Diligence p.50

 

l e i s u r e & l i b at i o n

Adventure

Slingers Outdoor Outfitters in Western North Carolina

p.55

l o c a l i n d u s t ry

Creditworthiness, Collateral, & Capital Funding Options for Entrepreneurs & Star tups p.37

Volume VIII - Edition VIII complimentary edition

capitalatplay.com

August 2018


2

| August 2018


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Editor’s Thoughts

L

ast month in this space I talked a bit about our magazine’s ongoing commitment to report on and champion the Western North Carolina entrepreneurial, business, and financial communities. In that regard, we’re rather proud of this month’s report on funding options for entrepreneurs and startups, “Creditworthiness, Collateral, & Character.” We approached a slate of area professionals—traditional bank lenders, lenders whose focus is specifically on small businesses, venture capitalists and angel investors, etc.—and asked them to break down what, exactly, is involved when an individual begins the process of obtaining funding for a new enterprise, or is seeking to expand an existing one. As you’ll read, there are numerous variables involved, depending on the approach a business owner decides to take, and each approach carries its own advantages, disadvantages, and caveats; no matter what type of business you want to start or grow, there’s no one-size-fits-all procedure, and I think you’ll find the discussion to be highly illuminating. Our overall goal with the report is to help bring some clarity to what is frequently a complex, and even confusing, road to navigate—and, hopefully, inspire some aspiring entrepreneur to finally make his or her dream come true. Because if any one thing comes through loud and clear in our article, it’s that you have to take that first step, and once you do, you have to be prepared to listen, to learn, and to follow through. By way of additional note: Because the readership has indicated it’s interested in more regional business coverage, starting with this issue we’ve also expanded our “Carolina in the West” news briefs section. So like I said last month, if you hear of some Western North Carolina business news you feel to be timely and unique, please feel free to pass it along to us. Also, regular readers who had been signed up for our monthly e-newsletter have no doubt noticed that the frequency has quadrupled; it’s now a weekly mailing. And beyond short descriptions of and links to our magazine content and exclusive online-only content, the newsletter is designed to let you know about breaking business news, event announcements, job listings, professional transitions, and sundry “stuff” that we just think is interesting and wanted to share with you (such as our “tire fireworks” video that we filmed at a training session by the off-road instructors with Blue Ridge Expeditions, whom we profiled in the July issue). Factor in some sweet area deals and discounts, as well as opportunities to win exclusive gifts via the Capital at Play Co-Op, that you’ll only be able to access by subscribing to the newsletter, and I think you’ll agree that signing up is a no-brainer.

Sincerely,

Fred Mills


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arage uthority TM paces Into Exception ming S al Places Transfor

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Evan Anderson, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Anthony Harden, Bill Kopp, Joanne Morgan, Shawndra Russell art director

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Editorial content is selected and produced because of its interest to our readership. Editorial content is not for sale and cannot be bought. Capital at Play is financially sustained by advertisers who find value in exposure alongside our unique content and to the readers who follow it. This magazine is printed with soy based ink on recycled paper. Please recycle. Copyright © 2018, Capital At Play, Inc. All rights reserved. Capital at Play is a trademark of Capital At Play, Inc. Published by Capital At Play, Inc. PO Box 5615, Asheville, NC. 28813

Capital at Play is protec ted through Tr ademar k Regis tr ation in the United States. The content found within this publication does not necessar ily ref lec t the views of Capital At Play, Inc. and its companies. Capital At Play, Inc. and its employees are not liable for any adver tising or editor ial content found in Capital at Play. The ar ticles, photogr aphy, and illus tr ations found in Capital at Play may not be reproduced or used in any fashion without express wr it ten consent by Capital At Play, Inc.


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Capital at Play has partnered with Bclip Productions to bring the pages of each edition to life, just for you. Featured at Capitalatplay.com and our Facebook page, we give you exclusive interviews and insider info on the people, places, and faces of Capital at Play has partnered with Bclip Productions to bring the pages of each edition to life, just for you. Featuring a new enterprise throughout Western North Carolina. Visit us on social media or at our website to see the latest 60 Seconds at Play.

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At Bclip we do more than tell your story. Our business-first mentality and c creativity set us apart from other video production companies. It’s our mis help our customers sell their products, train their staff, and entertain custo video. We strive to eat, sleep, and think like the wonderful companies we w


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HELLBENDERS OR HIGH WATER KEVIN & CHRISTIE MERRILL

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C ON T E N T S a u g u s t 2 018

photo courtesy of th Nantahala Outdoor Center

37

lo c a l i n d u s t r y

Creditworthiness, Collateral, & Capital

55

l e i s u r e & l i b at i o n

Adventure Slingers

Outfitters in Western North Carolina

Funding Options for Entrepreneurs & Startups

insight

briefs

12 N  CLINE Adventures Greg Vaeth

30 Carolina in the West 68 The Old North State

blu29

colu m ns

50 The Mother of

Good Luck {Part 1}

Pre-Closing Due Diligence Written by Joanne Morgan

Heather Stefani & Leeann Mayes

p e o p l e at p l ay

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nsight

GREG VAETH inside the van

photo by Steve Yocom

VanLife 4 Ever

With NCLINE Adventures, Greg Vaeth wants to give people something they will never forget and want to come back to. “I think the idea for the company came when I realized how much I love telling visitors to Western North Carolina where to go and what to do—combined with my love for the outdoors.” That’s Asheville’s Greg Vaeth, describing how he came to start NCLINE Adventures, which not only offers guided experiences and tours of the mountain region—how does a six-mile scenic hike, followed by a visit to a local brewery, strike you? or a relaxed, chauffeured drive up Blue Ridge Parkway plus a picnic lunch? or maybe the proverbial custom tour whereby you tell them what you’ve been itching to do in the mountains?—but can also put you behind the wheel of the company’s trickedout Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 conversion van (complete with queen bed, fridge, stove, sink, A/C, USB ports, Shoreline plug-in, and solar charging capabilities) for a night, a week, or longer. Think glamping, but on wheels. Greg had attended Syracuse University and worked in the “NYC rat race” for several years before winding up in Asheville, where he started an independent apparel company and, eventually, in 2015, MTN Merch in Biltmore Village. The retail 12

| August 2018

shop proved immensely popular among locals and tourists alike, but then in early 2017… He picks up the narrative: “I had no intention of selling, as I love creating and designing new ideas, meeting visitors and locals, and being a part of the Asheville small business community. But a local vendor kept telling me they wished they had done something like it, and off the cuff one day I told her she should buy it.” The vendor took Vaeth seriously and made an offer. Then he had to decide if he’d been serious with his original comment. Then… “Four months later we sold and walked away.” Far from being suddenly adrift, career-wise, Greg had already been brainstorming his next move, having retained the trademark “NCLINE” and also thinking about the outdoor experience market. “No one was servicing that market, and we knew it was about creating an experience,” he explains. “so over the next six months I had to get certified and permitted to guide in the area. Along with that, I told my wife this would be a rare chance to take a road trip across the USA—which


INSPIRED SHOPPING was a bucket list item for her. So, we took the back seats out of our Toyota Tacoma truck for our 155-pound Leonberger pup to tag along, and camped and Airbnb’d the whole way.” And that’s when the proverbial lightbulb moment struck: The Vaeths were at a campground in Idaho, and one morning he realized that the folks who had opted to travel and camp in vans were able to literally shut the vehicle doors, start the engine, and take off. No breaking down and packing up. “Once we were out west, we saw so many ‘VanLifers’ that we knew we had to make this a part of our business here in Asheville.” Greg eventually acquired a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and began the painstaking conversion process, tapping Rutherfordton’s Chestnut Forge & Furniture to help with the design and build-out. Meanwhile, he also converted his Tacoma to incorporate an ARB awning and attached tent, and a bed with tonneau cover, for clients looking for a different camping option. “We don’t just rent either,” adds Greg. “We will help you plan everything if you want us to help—sometimes you have to know where the secret camping is or special hikes to get away from the crowds. We have a really wide demographic, depending on if someone wants a custom tour. I guess personalized would be the best word to describe our offerings. Our goal is to

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“Sometimes you have to know where the secret camping is or special hikes to get away from the crowds.” make sure we have created an experience that turns into a memory—something you will never forget and want to come back to. Most people are already here on vacation and are in a good mood, but once you take them over 6000 feet and they get a view with all that fresh air, their smiles widen, especially those that don’t consider themselves an adventurer. It is such a great feeling, to connect people to the outdoors.” Going forward, Greg hopes to add more vans to his burgeoning fleet in order to help people maximize their time and their experience. He also hosts a regular podcast, Experience Asheville, in which he talks to interesting people from the area about their experiences. “Our community is so unique, filled with incredible entrepreneurs with all types of background; it is a really special place, and we want to be sure and share that. The other part about it is we are local—not an outfitter from another state or area just putting people ‘out there,’ and with the other businesses we started and the surrounding community it’s allowed us to really put our roots into the dirt and dig it. I can’t even begin to tell you about all the support we have received!”

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Denim & Décor Heather Stefani and Leeann Mayes, of retail newcomer blu29, intend to bring a new clothing/furniture concept to town that blends a “New York boutique feeling with Asheville’s small town artsy vibe.”

A

nyone currently residing in Western North Carolina (and, quite probably, a lot of non-residents, judging from the steady stream of kudos coming from national media) is aware of our area, Asheville in particular, being a top destination—to such a point that all those constant “likes” and placement on “best” lists can seem numbing at times. That duly noted, once in a while a news item catches your eye, which is what a June 20 post from Asheville-based fashion/ lifestyle blog The Tony Townie did (www.thetonytownie. com). The writer talked about new South Slope boutique blu29’s recent arrival, describing their fashion-forward merchandise in terms normally reserved for a food critic’s appraisal of a particularly inspired new arrival on the dining scene, additionally singling out co-owners Heather Stefani and Leeann Mayes as particularly savvy entrepreneurs for their obvious buying, merchandising, and design skills. Duly intrigued—and also having been tipped to blu29 prior to their mid-June opening from an entrepreneur we’d


previously profiled in Capital at Play—we checked in with Stefani and Mayes. We liked what we learned. “We started blu29,” says Stefani, “because we identified an unmet need in the area for higher end, elevated apparel basics—denim and knits—as well as a unique collection of North Carolina made furniture (Bernhardt, Lillian August, Sherrill, Jonathan Adler, Robert Abbey), blended with vintage pieces and home accessories. There is no other store quite like it in Asheville—a one-stop shop for self and home—beautiful clothing and furniture.” Indeed, a quick scan of blu29’s website, Facebook page, or Instagram page makes clear that their stated goal—of offering “a

has been featured in Southern Living, Travel & Leisure, and Better Homes and Gardens. “I am excited to open a store to bring beautiful furniture and accessories to more people beyond only my clients,” she explains. “I always design for a ‘feeling’—I want a home to feel comfortable and beautiful for the people who live there.” (In addition to selling items out of the store, Mayes continues to offer design services and custom soft goods.) Both women are confident that they are bringing a one-ofa-kind shopping experience to Asheville, citing their unique accessories and vintage pieces; brands unique to Asheville, such as FRAME, J BRAND, Skull Cashmere, and KSUBI; products for

Both women are confident that they are bringing a one-of-a-kind shopping experience to Asheville, citing their unique accessories and vintage pieces. collection of high-end denim, knits, furniture, home décor, and other gorgeous feel-good items carefully selected and curated for their modern, clean aesthetic, and quality of fit, fabrics, and make”—was met right out of the gate. That’s not surprising, either, given the principals’ backgrounds. Stefani, who calls herself the “denim” half of the partnership, has been a senior business leader and consultant in the fashion, apparel, and athletic industries for several years. She moved to Asheville from the New York area, and says she’s now fulfilling her dream to open a clothing boutique. “I love shopping— especially for clothing. Denim is a staple, and my goal is to offer great fitting jeans and coordinating tops that are trendy and easy to wear—bringing big city brands and styles to both locals and tourists.” For her part, Mayes, originally from the Philadelphia area and the “décor” part, is an award winning Southeast interior designer for both residential and commercial clients. Her work

both women and men; and local artists, including pottery by Laura Keyes, jewelry by Melissa Broek and Christie Calaycay, and paintings by Zander Stefani. (“And Leeann’s design style!” interjects Stefani, with undisguised enthusiasm.) They also plan to move into e-commerce within the next year, building upon their already impressive online presence, which is a case study in how-to-do-social-media-right for small businesses. The successful June grand opening under their belt—check the aforementioned Instagram page for plenty of customer and merch photos—Mayes and Stefani are eager to move forward with blu29, saying, as Stefani puts it, “to become a destination. To become known in the Southeast as the store that everyone wants to shop in when they come here—for that New York boutique feeling with Asheville’s small town artsy vibe.” blu29 is located at 146 Church Street in Asheville. Learn more at: www.blu29.com.

August 2018 | capitalatplay.com

15


LOOKING DOWN is what you want to do, when all the creatures are below the water.

H 16

r s e d n

Kevin and Christie Merrill of Oxbow River Snorkeling are running their business come...

e l l be | August 2018


h W g i a H t r er o written by shawndr a russell

|

photos by evan anderson

August 2018 | capitalatplay.com

17


When I found out I’d be snorkeling in a river with Kevin Merrill, owner of Transylvania County’s Oxbow River Snorkeling, for this article, I asked all my outdoorsiest friends—ranging from serious mountain climbers to laid-back tubers— if they’d ever done it. Most looked at me dumbfoundedly, and I quickly discovered that no one in my circle had ever heard of river snorkeling, much less done it. They immediately peppered me with questions: “How will you see anything in that murky water?” “Won’t it be really cold?” “What can you really see when the water is moving that fast?” “Do you really think it will compare to ocean snorkeling?”

F

or that last one, I can say that, no, you can’t really compare ocean to river snorkeling because they are two completely different experiences that have their own thrills and distinct ecosystems to explore. And sure, river snorkeling doesn’t come with palm trees or the array of tropical colors found on and around a coral reef; yet some of the 45 available fish species in this area certainly have brilliant swipes of colors (like the male river chubbs’ streaks of blue) and funky silhouettes (like the sculpins), and many sections of the river were crystal clear. I certainly can’t wait to go again, and it was truly fascinating to see so much life teeming below the surface. There was much to learn during our three-hour tour (most Oxbow trips are half- or full-day outings), like that the hairy growths I’d always mistaken for moss on underwater rocks during my childhood years spent playing in creeks and rivers in Southwest Ohio are actually water insects that make intricate homes to help protect them or capture food. And I was pleased that the three-piece wetsuit kept me warm the entire two-mile journey, as that had been high on my list of concerns, presnorkel. The getup included a tight hood that cups your face, full-body wetsuit, and water booties that require a sturdy pair of boots or tennis shoes worn over top. (I wore water shoes, but they weren’t tough enough to help me dig in when I needed it, and they slipped off several times, meaning I had to chase after them down some Level II rapids.) Yet what surprised me the most was how much fun it was digging my heels into the ever-shifting riverbed and crouching over to see a few fish while always keeping a vigilant eye out for an Eastern Hellbender Salamander, the crème de la crème of sightings, according to Merrill. In fact, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission has asked folks to report when they see a hellbender since these gentle giants are disappearing quickly due to their natural habitat being destroyed. They can be found near the headwaters of the French Broad River, where Merrill often starts his river snorkeling tours for groups, and where he also takes me and photographer Evan Anderson for our excursion. “Groups that book with me have to be flexible,” Merrill explains, “because we might not be able to determine a meeting spot along 18

| August 2018

a river until the day of—I never want to take anyone out where the water is too murky or the current is too fast.” And while plenty of tour operators for various outdoor activities say they’ll reschedule groups if the weather is poor, the reality is that some places will try to push through an itinerary to keep things on schedule and not lose a day’s worth of income. But Merrill doesn’t operate under any kind of bottom-line-first mentality when it comes to his bootstrapped business. Currently, he hasn’t made the leap to operating it full-time and is finishing up his nursing degree, averaging three to four trips per week during July and August. He and his wife, Christie, started the business in 2013 after debating about whether to buy Headwater Outfitters, which offers fishing and paddling trips out of their small facility and taproom, located at the starting point of the French Broad River. Kevin actually worked as a river host and river guide for the company from 2012-2014. Instead, says Merrill, “Christie encouraged me to apply for a loan and start a guided snorkeling business.” He enlisted the help of his cousin, a graphic designer who lives in Winston-Salem and works for Hanes, and had his lawyer form the LLC while he worked on the website and Facebook page for the business. The original concept was to take school groups out, since conservation is tied to exposure; i.e. if kids fall in love with river snorkeling, they’ll want to help protect America’s rivers. “I had already started my high school club SANE (Southern Appalachian Nature Expeditions) Adventures and really wanted to add the outdoor educational aspect to the business.” And while Oxbow has not yet turned into a venture profitable enough for Kevin to focus on the business full-time, he and Christie are always brainstorming ways to grow the business, while also paying off their student loans and avoiding taking on more debt. One way Kevin has tried to increase profits is by becoming a watersports gear dealer through Diversico out of Atlanta, because they carry the Akona wetsuits he prefers. “They’re the most comfortable and durable wetsuits on the market and are made from more environmentally-friendly material,” he explains.


KEVIN HELPING the author prepare for the water, while Christie Merrill looks on.

KEVIN MERRILL August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 19


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Turning kids into environment-loving adult advocates seems more crucial now than ever, since just last month the current administration was sued for weakening the Clean Water Act protections in place to protect rivers, streams, wetlands, and other waterways in the United States. Additionally, federal Food and Drug Administration documents reveal that the United States has approved for American paper mills to dump “hundreds of pounds of a controversial chemical into rivers—a reality that the federal government is aware of and has signed off on,” according to The Hill’s “Environmentalists: Paper Mills Likely Major Source of Chemical Pollution in Waterways.”

*** But Kevin Merrill, an upbeat jokester who gives off a mad scientist vibe when he really gets going about the river’s ecology, likes to focus on the positive. He’s excited to transition from working at Rosman High School (located between Brevard and Lake Toxaway) as Electronic Learning Advisor & ISS to a nurse in part because he wants Oxbow to offer Wilderness Rescue and other first aid/survival-type certificates. Christie Merrill has just wrapped up her requirements to be able to start teaching these types of classes, which they hope will be another steady income stream for the business to help it grow. She already works as a critical care registered nurse at Transylvania Regional after spending time at both Mission Hospital and at the University of Kentucky, having completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing with a minor in chemistry from Eastern Kentucky in 2008. “I love spending as much time exploring in the water with Kevin as possible,” she says, but these two don’t just stick to river snorkeling. Christie will soon be the proud owner of a solo whitewater canoe, which she plans to spend lots of time in—no small feat when she works crazy hours at the hospital and is a mom to their two teenage daughters, August 2018 | capitalatplay.com

21


VIEW DOWNRIVER . Can you spot the snorkelers?

Meredith and Rebekah. The couple met during their spring 2003 semester of college when Kevin’s daughter, Rebekah, was two and Christie’s daughter, Meredith, was three years old. “We could relate since our girls were almost the same age,” Kevin says. Nowadays when the family isn’t on the water, they can be found canoe camping and hiking throughout Western North Carolina. Kevin’s schooling started in 2003 at Madisonville Community College, where he earned his associate’s degree before spending the next six years at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). He ended up with a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, with a minor in chemistry teaching, and a Master of Science in biology with a focus on freshwater biology. He credits three of

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| August 2018

“I promise you after a long day of belly crawling through fast current you’re going to feel it in your shoulders, and you’re going to go to sleep dreaming that your body is still in the water.”


his EKU professors and mentors, Dr. Sherry Harrel, Dr. Guenter Schuster, and Dr. David Hayes, for his career path. “These three are greatly responsible for where I am today as far as freshwater biology,” Kevin says, adding that Dr. Hayes was the first person to take Kevin river snorkeling when they explored the Big South Fork on the Cumberland River. Dr. Hayes was surprised when he heard Kevin opened a river snorkeling company since, as he notes, “There’s a lack of awareness since freshwater systems are hidden from view and people don’t realize what a rich world there is to be seen below the surface.” In fact, the freshwater systems in the Southeast have some of the highest biological diversity in the world, with a rich abundance of fish, turtles, mussels, snails, and crayfish,

many with vibrant colors that rival coral reef animals. He also cautions folks to be aware of the physicality of river snorkeling. “I promise you after a long day of belly crawling through fast current,” says Hayes, “you’re going to feel it in your shoulders, and you’re going to go to sleep dreaming that your body is still in the water.” He also gives Kevin full endorsement as an ideal river snorkeling guide: “He has a passion for aquatic environments that is infectious, and he’s personable towards people from all walks of life.” So personable, in fact, that Hayes became friends with the Merrills. “Kevin was what we in the university setting would call a ‘non-traditional student’ in that he wasn’t the typical 18-to-24-year-old,” explains Hayes. “I was only 28 at

August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 23


1.

6.

2.

WHAT TO SEE UNDER WATER

3.

1. Greenfin Darter 2. Big River Crayfish (crawfish = eat it;

crawdad = fish with it; crayfish = study it)

3. Swannanoa Darter 4. Tennessee Shiners (orange fish)

& Stoneroller (larger fish) - photo taken over a river chub nest 5. Hellbender Salamander during breeding season

6. Appalachian Elktoe mussel - the federally

endangered freshwater mussels serve as natural filters in our rivers and streams

(Photos by Kevin Merrill/Oxbow River Snorkeling)

5.

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| August 2018

4.


the time and he was, I think, about a decade older than me, with grey hair and covered in tattoos, so I’d say ‘non-traditional’ was an appropriate description!” Over a decade later, Kevin now rocks a long white beard, adding to his personability, which was on full display as we chatted postPROFESSIONAL CLOSET CLEANSE - 3 HOURS/$180 snorkel at the Headwaters Outfitters A closet walk-through designed for the ultimate edit. pub. He addressed every person who entered or exited, usuallySEND with some STYLISH OFF $60/HOUR STYLISH SEND OFF anecdote or inside story. I joked that PERSONAL STYLIST PACKAGE - 3 HOURS/$180 Let us pack you! Where are you going and how fabulous Let us pack for you! Where are you going he could be mayor one day.for “Maybe,” Within and your current closet, looks do down you need to look? do try youon need toyou look? Outfits will be photog he said, swigging the last of hisOutfits will be photographed, folded, beer and smiling. love and create new ones with your stylist. packed. Keep it light: the least number of pieces for optimal packed. Keep it light: the least number of p Hayes got into riveris snorkeling outfitting our goal. And never forget socks and undies again! outfitting is our goal. And never forget soc through his work doing surveys for EVENT STYLING - $60/HOUR freshwater mussels, and both he and Identify a full look for your big event: hair, makeup, attire & Kevin share concerns for them, as 50 percent of the more than 60 species accessories, suitable for headshots, business website of mussels that can be found in North updates, and commercial styling. Mondayas thru Thursday – 8 am-8 pm Monday thru Thursday – 8 am-8 pm Carolina are designated Endangered, Sunday – Post Brunch, please. Sunday – Post Brunch, please. Threatened, or Special Concern. STYLISH SEND OFF - $60/HOUR “Freshwater mussels are some of the most imperiled organisms in the Let us pack for you! Where are you going and how fabulous do you world, and surveying for them generally need to look? Outfits will be photographed, folded, and packed. involves snorkeling or scuba diving,” says Hayes. “Then, I started doing Duo deal – Receive a 20% discount on all services when we tackle Duo deal – Receive a 20% discount on all s more river snorkeling for photography two closets in your home. two-closets in your home. PERSONAL SHOPPING $50/HOUR as a hobby. For many species, FREE HOUR for yourself each time you gift Professional FREEtoHOUR for yourself Tackle yourthe shopping lists with onlineEarn linksa sent you directly from each time photographingEarn thema in their natural Closet Cleanse or Personal Stylist Package or send us a referral Closet Cleanse or Personal Package habitat simply wasn’t possible, and it’s your stylist or send us on a mission to Asheville’s best boutiquesStylist to pretty amazingthat to think you might be purchases a package. that find you something in purchases a pinch. a package. the first person to photodocument an organism in its natural habitat without DUO DEAL – Receive a 20% discount on all traveling halfway across the world.” services when we tackle two closets in your home.

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*** Photography is another interest Hayes and Kevin have in common (they originally bonded over music). Kevin indicated he hopes to improve his underwater river photography game and spoke with photographer Evan at length about equipment and tactics during our photo shoot, and also discussed getting a group of photography enthusiasts together for a day of snorkeling and shooting the river. Kevin is one of those people whose minds always seem to be Dema Badr pondering, clicking away at some idea stylescoutasheville@gmail.com or problem. His high energy and evident Mobile 1.828.280.6627

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enthusiasm for his work is certainly “infectious,” as Dr. Hayes described it, which certainly added to the fun during our float. At one point, he grabbed my arm and pulled me against the current to check out a river Chub’s spawning ground. “You never see this, this late in the season!” Kevin gushed through his snorkel as he quickly dove back under, transfixed for several minutes before moving on to his next chosen spot where he hoped to spy another aquatic species to lure us to. As Kevin scouted out the waters ahead, he would warn us about upcoming rapids that were surprisingly strong and quick, worthy of scratching anyone’s thrill-seeking itch. The day we went out, Kevin explained the river’s speed was at a 2.8, where with tour groups he doesn’t like to go out above a 1.6. This kind of cautiousness has kept Oxbow free from major mishaps, but there have certainly been days that Kevin and Christie have been tested. “One elderly guy in his 90s insisted he wanted to go, but he was pretty frail. After just a few minutes, he’d basically stopped trying to do anything himself and just held onto me. At one point I was fully carrying him! But the couple had a great time, so that’s all that matters,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. I can


testify that I banged my shins on a few rocks, but that was due to my failing to point my head upstream—it can be a challenge to get reset mid-stream in the midst of Level II rapids! But don’t let Kevin’s laid-back, roll-with-the-punches attitude fool you: This guy knows his stuff. He was selected by Dr. Schuster to be an assistant curator with crayfish in EKU’s Brantley A. Branson Museum of Zoology, and later as Dr. Harrel’s graduate research assistant, he studied the blackside dace, a little minnow that resides in Southeastern Kentucky. This work led to him co-authoring and contributing his data to the Southeastern Naturalist’s article, “Restoration of Stream Habitat for Blackside Dace.” Dr. Harrel was one of the article’s other co-authors, and she notes, of his blackside dace work, “He did not disappoint! The project was funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and was extremely important in determining how the federally threatened blackside dace were doing in the newly restored stream. His study was an important part of determining the success of the restoration.” Kevin then worked that summer as a field assistant for the Fish and Wildlife Service, surveying the Cumberland arrow darter and the Kentucky arrow darter. His work led to the Kentucky arrow darter being listed as federally threatened on the Endangered Species List. He also has grand plans to eventually document each of the 250+ species of darters in the country, most of which reside in the Southeast. “It’ll likely never happen, but it would be quite an accomplishment to see and photograph breeding males of each species,” Kevin says, a bit wistfully. Dr. Harrel, like Dr. Hayes, was also a bit surprised to learn Kevin had opened Oxbow. “It is such a novel idea and a perfect way for him to share with others about his

KEVIN, or the Creature from the Black Lagoon? August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 27


passion for aquatic ecology,” she says. “He loves to be on and in the water, and I have watched him grow in his knowledge about the aquatic fauna and their habitat through his years of wonder and curiosity.” Harrel thinks river snorkeling taking off as a commercial recreational activity could be a great thing for river preservation since “so many people are oblivious to the diversity of our natural world, especially in the aquatic world. When people put their head under water, they become exposed to a whole new world.” Of course, the negative impact of it growing in popularity would be people disturbing the river’s natural world—just another reason Kevin likes to keep his groups at eight or less. “We want everyone to have a great time, see as much stuff as they want, and be safe,” Kevin says. Christie chimes in: “Safety is our number one focus. Without that, people can’t have a good time.”

*** Anyone who does take a river snorkeling trip with Kevin will probably walk away like I did wondering how Oxbow—and the activity itself—hasn’t exploded in popularity just yet. All four of us—Kevin, Christie, Evan, myself—were grinning from ear to ear after we emerged from the water, startling a group of kids who quickly snapped our picture while giggling at our

getups—they’d probably never seen snorkelers come out of the river at twilight, as Kevin only gets to go about 60 times a year. “We love taking friends and family out. It’s just a great way to spend time on the water,” he says. Of course, he has a deep appreciation for nature’s bounty of his hometown specifically, since he grew up playing in these very waters and can trace his family’s roots in the area back generations, including a great-great grandfather apt in trapping furs and a bootlegging great grandfather. “My family grew up poor and never knew an education. I’m proud I broke that cycle,” Kevin says, noting that their daughters are also preparing to start their college careers. Meredith is going to Blue Ridge Community College in the fall for a year, then transferring to Western Carolina University for either forestry or agricultural science, while Rebekah is preparing to start her senior year of high school and take college courses at Blue Ridge, too. After she graduates, she hopes to attend Appalachian State University and may major in psychology. With the outdoor recreation industry topping $900 billion in consumer spending each year, river snorkeling could certainly appeal to many of the folks who spend $28 billion in North Carolina alone. Add this fact with the support of the newly-created North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Industry Office—which puts our state in a class with only seven other

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states with similar dedicated entities—and the Merrills may be poised for big things with their small family business that currently runs out of their dining room and the back of Kevin’s truck. “I want my dining room back!” Christie teased as we pulled on our wetsuits, clearly excited to go river snorkeling for the umpteenth time, just like her

“We really just want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to discover river snorkeling,” he adds. And while it would typically be great to be one of the few companies who offer what they do, for Oxbow, having virtually no competition means they have to educate the masses about the activity itself. In fact, Kevin is aware of only one river snorkeling program being offered through the United States Forest Service, which has launched summer programs throughout the country in places like the Cherokee National Forest and Vermont’s Green Mountain. The Forest Service also created a “Freshwater Snorkeling Toolkit” to encourage educators, entrepreneurs, and others Non-invasive laser body interested in promoting freshwater contouring for a natural look.snorkeling or even just going out on your own, which will also help the activity grow as more people go out solo, No Surgery. as well as with expert guides like Kevin. So while it’s yet to be determined if river No Downtime. snorkeling Just Results. will gain mainstream attraction as a recreational activity, perhaps with the Merrills at the helm, the small town of Rosman (population 587) will become the capital of river snorkeling—adding another feather to Western North Carolina’s cap as an adventure and recreational hub.

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With the outdoor recreation industry The Smarter Way to Sculpt topping $900 billion in consumer spending each year, river snorkeling could certainly appeal to many of the folks who spend $28 billion in North Carolina alone. husband. “Our biggest obstacle is that river snorkeling is virtually unknown,” Kevin responds, matter-of-factly. To help combat this unknown factor, they plan to book trips in other areas, especially throughout the Southeast.

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CAROLINA in the

WEST [

news briefs

Moving Up in the World buncombe county

After eight years, Ben Teague is leaving the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce to serve as the vice president for strategic development at Biltmore Farms. He will also take the lead in government affairs at the company, which has four divisions: Biltmore Farms Commercial, Biltmore Farms Communities, Biltmore Farms Homes, and Biltmore Farms Hotels. In business since 1897, the company is now led by Chair George H.V. Cecil and President and CEO John F.A.V. Cecil, both descendants of founder George Vanderbilt. While at the chamber, Teague was the chief operating officer, as well as the executive director of the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County. During his time at the chamber, Teague helped over 50 companies decide to locate or expand

]

in Buncombe County, thus paving the way for over 4,000 jobs and $1.2 billion in capital investment in the county. He also oversaw the creation of Venture Asheville, an angel investor group that has helped 22 companies since their formation in 2013. Teague’s successor at the chamber is Clark Duncan, who had been serving as its vice president of economic development. Teague has been invited to serve on the board of directors for the chamber in his new role.

Moving Mountains

a week prior caused mud and trees to shear from 600-800 feet up the mountain and slump across the road. An estimated 110,000 cubic yards of material, 20 feet deep and running 100 linear feet down the road, will have to be hauled offsite. The slide was first reported at 4AM on June 5. Authorities did not think anybody was trapped, but any search and rescue was deemed unsafe, as trees and mud continued to move into the next day. The North Carolina DOT set up a 50-mile detour safe for trucks, and developed a plan for cleanup. They have constructed a dirt road to drive heavy machinery up to the top of the slide, as clearing from the bottom would destabilize the slope and endanger workers. GCLC is now in the process of removing an estimated 10,000 dump truckloads of debris. Once the mud is removed, GCLC will restore drainage, replace the guardrail, and repair the road. Work began June 12 and is projected to conclude July 27. In accordance with state law, the contract was awarded to the lowest qualified bidder.

henderson county

Graham County Land Company (GCLC) has been awarded a $1.49 million contract to clear the mudslide on Highway 9 between US 74A and the BuncombeHenderson county line. Record rainfall

This Old House polk county

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has been designated a National Treasure. Fewer than 100 homes bear the distinction awarded by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Under the designation, which was created to bring communities together to preserve historic resources at-risk, the North Carolina African-American Heritage Commission and the World Monuments Fund will collaborate to perform a physical needs assessment and gauge the market for different uses. Kevin McIntyre purchased the home in 2003, but he had to give it up after investing $100,000 in renovations. Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, and Adam Pendleton then purchased the home for $95,000. The owner-artists expect to spend $100,000 of their own and raise another $150,000 for the renovations. They don’t want the house to be an ordinary museum, but would prefer it to be some kind of makerspace with an artist residency program. “I can’t think of a better way to support the work of one artist than to support the work of others,” explained Pendleton. A natural on the piano, Simone was named the 29th greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone, and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

carolina in the west

The Way the Spirit Goes

Expanding Footprint

buncombe county

buncombe county

Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines will begin flying from Asheville Regional Airport September 6, connecting to three Florida destinations. The discount airline will fly to Fort LauderdaleHol ly wood, Orlando, and Tampa international airports. Service will begin with three weekly flights to the first two destinations and two to the latter, and in November an additional weekly flight will be added to each route. Discount carrier Allegiant already offers flights on select days of the week between Asheville and Florida destinations Daytona Beach-Sanford, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Sanford, Punta Gorda-Fort Myers, St. Petersburg-Clearwater-Tampa, and Tampa Bay. It also flies to Denver, Baltimore-Washington, D.C., and New York-Newark. Bloomberg recently ranked the airport the country’s second-largest growing airport in terms of seats sold. Its 33.2% growth rate was bested only by Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida’s 33.3%. Growth was largely attributed to flights added to Newark by Allegiant and United. Asheville will be the 67th airport serviced by Spirit. With headquarters in Miramar, Florida, Spirit is the eighth-largest airline in North America.

Wake Foot Sanctuary (profiled in the August 2017 issue of this magazine) has entered into a second franchise agreement. Alpesh and Ami Patel of Kana Hotel Group will be opening a Wake Foot Sanctuary in their legacy Embassy Suites project in Knoxville, Tennessee. Having undertaken an adaptive reuse of an old downtown building, the Patels were looking for something unique for its retail space. Wake Foot Sanctuary is a spa where clientele relax in luxurious chairs and soak their feet in copper tubs containing an infusion of natural ingredients. Also offering neck wraps and massages, the business’ trained staff members strive to “dote on” customers and bring them “peace, balance, and serenity.” The hotel is scheduled to open late next summer. Also coming soon is the business’ first franchise in Greenville, South Carolina. Franchisees Chris Fetter and Tad Heineman are looking forward to living meaningfully through this opportunity to serve people in an environment with latitude for creativity. Wake Foot Sanctuary opened in Asheville two years ago, and at $729,000, last year’s sales represented a 40% year-over-year increase. The company is working on opening franchises in at least 17 states.

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Swain County leadership finally received $35.2 million owed from the North Shore Road settlement. To meet wartime demands for power in the 1940s, the Tennessee Valley Authority flooded 30 miles of North Shore Road between Bryson City and Tennessee to construct Fontana Dam. At first, local leaders had hoped the government would rebuild a road connecting families with homesteads and cemeteries. When that seemed impossible, leaders reached an agreement in 2010 settling for $52 million in cash. The settlement was to be paid over ten years, but the county only received the initial payment; further distributions were either left out of federal budgets or hung up in the National Park Service. The county sued the Department of the Interior in 2016 for breach of contract and spent $100,000 on litigation, only to have the case dismissed. Then, last year, the county received $4 million; and on June 30, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Representative Mark Meadows, and Senator Thom Tillis presented the balance in a ceremony with a host of state leaders. The settlement funds are kept in a trust account, and the county is only allowed to spend interest, which runs around $200,000-$300,000 a year.

No Small Feat haywood county

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32

NC BROKER REALTOR ® | August 2018

A new restaurant has opened in downtown Waynesville where Tipping Point Tavern used to stand. Called Sauced, the restaurant is managed by 22-year-old Luke Wertz. The old tavern was lightened up with a paint job and a mural by Asheville artist Gus Cuddy. The new color theme is red and orange. The menu includes pop foods like pizza and tacos, and the joint runs a full bar. In less than a month of opening, business was hopping to the point Wertz wasn’t even going to consider live entertainment until slower

months. But perhaps Sauce’s greatest accomplishment was forcing a change in local ordinances downtown business interests have pursued for some time. Wertz wanted to have sidewalk dining, but he couldn’t because existing laws forbade the sale of alcohol on sidewalks and required businesses to keep a 2’ buffer in front of their storefronts. Wertz managed to secure support from the Downtown Waynesville Association and the board of aldermen. Now, businesses with a sidewalk at least 10’ wide in front can apply for a 3’ encroachment. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the director of public works and the town manager. Eventually, the city could set fees to cover costs of applications.

Extreme Traffic Planning jackson county

The Jackson County Smart Roads Alliance has reunited. The group first formed in 2000 to prevent the North Carolina DOT from making changes to Highway 107, which connects US 74 to Cullowhee, to handle Western Carolina University traffic. Those plans were canceled, leaving congestion in the Town of Sylva. Now, the DOT’s plans don’t make sense to citizens. They call for taking out 54 businesses, or one-sixth the total registered in the town. While the road would require the total demolition of 22 buildings, it would run through only parts of others or take away their parking to the extent they would have to relocate. What’s more, the road will not be widened to loosen travel tie-ups, but rather will be widened to accommodate bike lanes and sidewalks. At an informational meeting of the Smart Roads Alliance, business owners stated “nobody rides bikes.” Julie Mayfield and Chris Joyell of MountainTrue spoke to the group, suggesting Sylva property owners could buy time with the DOT and develop more creative plans that are not so destructive. For example, Mayfield suggested the bike lanes and sidewalks could run behind the buildings.


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Hendersonville’s 1898 Waverly Inn in was selected as North Carolina’s “Most Charming Small-Town Bed and Breakfast” in Reader’s Digest’s list of the best for each state. The inn was founded as Anderson Boarding House in 1898 by Maggie Anderson, who recruited her sister, Bessie Egerton, to help run it. After the 1910 fire, the building was restored after the fashion of the Eastlake Movement of the Queen Anne Style of Victorian architecture. The third story was rebuilt, and the exterior was enhanced with delicate porches on the first and second levels. The building was renamed the Waverly Inn in 1915, and, as Hendersonville’s oldest surviving inn, it is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The current owners and innkeepers, Tracey and Mike Burnette, have invested in upgrades since acquiring the place in 2016. Each of the 15 guestrooms is decorated in a different style from the period. All this is only secondary to the Burnettes, who are focused on making guests feel like family. Visitors are served a gourmet, farm-totable Southern breakfast and invited to an evening social with pimento cheese, lemonade, and alcoholic beverages. The inn now hosts a Sunday brunch and a monthly barbecue with live music.

Dynamic Equilibrium haywood county

New Meridian Technologies, a computer store in downtown Waynesville, is closing after 16 years. Owner Jon Feichter left to become the information technology director for Meridian Behavioral Health Services. Feichter had volunteered his services to help with the agency’s computer system, a feat for which the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce recently honored him. Two other New Meridian employees will be working for the agency as well. The remaining employees will continue to work in the same location as John

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carolina in the west

Parker, owner of CIC Technologies in Cherokee, heard about the closing and decided to open a branch where New Meridian had been operating. Feichter did not sell his business to Parker; one business closed and another opened. CIC handles everything New Meridian did plus phone systems, advanced cabling, and security systems.

Make Your Home Manly transylvania county

Mantiques is now in Brevard. As one might guess, the store specializes in manly antiques. Owner Carl Littlefield lives in Sapphire, and he opened the first Mantiques in Cashiers six years ago. Littlefield’s favorite part of the business is hunting the antiques. He looks for genuine, unique, rustic items with an edge and style. Littlefield brands his items as “genteel lodge, rustic décor, and sportsman’s collectibles.” In addition to rustic furniture, shoppers will be able to find accent pieces like framed paintings of sports animals, moose heads, and antique sports gear. Littlefield will open shop in the old Rice Furniture store on West Main Street. The building’s owner, John Nichols, said he has been recruiting Littlefield to open a Mantiques there because it’s one of his favorite stores. Applying his sense of

manly décor to the store itself, Littlefield wants to park a 1934 Ford truck inside the entrance, to honor the building’s heritage as a Ford dealership in the 1930s. Other features include an old railroad luggage rack to be filled with antique baggage and a barber section complete with furnishings and tools. The Cashiers store is only open seasonally, but the Brevard Mantiques will be open year-round.

Cleaning up TCE buncombe county

Treatment of the CTS Superfund site in Asheville is now underway. The Environmental Protection Agency is using Electrical Resistance Heating to vaporize trichloroethylene (TCE) integrated with soil over a 1.2-acre expanse. The vapors will collect in wells and then be treated to remove any toxic chemicals. The process is expected to remove 95% of any remaining TCE. In addition, a 1.9-acre tract to the north will undergo In-Situ-Chemical Oxidation beginning next year, injecting reagents into the ground to react with TCE and form nontoxic chemicals. After these two processes have run their course, a plan will be developed with public input to determine how to remove any residual contaminants. The treatment is prescribed in a settlement between the

EPA and the US Department of Justice and International Resistance Company (IRC), its successor company Northrop Grumman Systems, CTS Asheville, and Mills Gap Road Associates. Vast amounts of TCE, a degreasing agent used by IRC and CTS to clean metal for electroplating, was presumably stored or disposed of unsafely. The call for a cleanup resulted from residents claiming high rates of cancer in their neighborhoods and demanding connections to city water.

Run, Mr. Fox! polk county

W hen Master of Foxhounds and Huntsman Tot Goodwin of Green Creek Hounds retired, David Raley became huntsman, and a new kennel was opened on Poors Ford Road in Green Creek. The new kennel is light, climate-controlled, and soundproofed out of courtesy to the neighbors. In addition to lodging and runs for the dogs, the kennel building has offices, a veterinary room, and feed storage space. To celebrate the relocation and give people a chance to meet the new houndmaster, Green Creek Hounds hosted an open house and kennel tour that was attended by about 100. The open house also corresponded with the kickoff of the early season, which will extend through

FA LL: A PER F EC T TIME TO PL A N T

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November, the formal season running through February. Whereas Goodwin had run American and English crossbred hounds, Raley, who comes from Maryland, will work with Penn-Marydel hounds, the choice of huntsmen in that state. Green Creek’s charter covers thousands of acres in Polk and Cleveland Counties and Greenville and Union Counties in South Carolina. The terrain is mostly hilly, with woodlands and farms, and it is the natural habitat for foxes, coyotes, and bobcats.

owes you something does not exist in the world of the small business owner… Entrepreneurship is empowerment.” Two recurring concerns voiced at the meeting were the absence of family activities for tourists and the fact that the town only has “one sidewalk.” The chief wants the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce to convene quarterly meetings.

swain county

Chief Richard G. Sneed provided the opening remarks for a “Breakfast with the Chief” held in the Locust Room of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. The event was organized to invite business owners to share their concerns and needs, and Sneed would like it to become a regular event so the tribal government can work with, instead of against, people building a healthy economy. Sneed, a former business owner and educator, said, “I used to tell my students all the time that every American should own their own business at least once, for at least one year…. It will change your entire perspective of how the world works … because the idea that someone else, somewhere else,

To Make You Like New polk county

Drive Like a Cop haywood county

Wisdom from the Chief

activities make getting six hours of road time difficult. For $240 students may purchase six hours of observation plus six hours of behind-the-wheel training, and for $395 they may get the road time plus the 30 hours of instruction.

Badge of Blue Driving School, founded by cops Tim and Tanya Carver, has enrolled its first student drivers. Currently, 30 hours of classroom time and six hours of driving with an instructor certified by the Department of Motor Vehicles is required before an aspiring driver can get a learner’s permit in the state. The classroom work may be completed online or through the public school system, but backlogs for road time in Haywood County can extend 6-12 months. The Carvers’ business will help with the backlog while training students with special expertise. As law-enforcement officers, the Carvers have to be up-to-speed on traffic laws because they’re the ones handing out tickets. Another competitive edge is the Carvers can offer flexible hours for students whose extracurricular

The board of St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation unanimously agreed to grant the Columbus hospital $167,000 to purchase a suite of orthopedic surgical tools. The tools, which include saws, drills, and reamers, will be used primarily for whole hip, knee, and shoulder replacements. Existing tools had been wearing down to the point investment in repairs no longer made sense. The new tools are more technically-advanced than what doctors have been using. They also are easier to clean and sanitize. Hospital professionals got to test-drive the tools, manufactured by ConMed, before anything was purchased; and they had rave reviews. St. Luke’s opened a six-room orthopedic wing in 2013. Construction was funded with over unch $2.5 million raised and kend br by the eecontributed w g in v r foundation, Now se which was established in 1991 to raise funds for the hospital’s endowment, runch d bpurchase nand e k fund facility improvements, e e w rving Now seand diagnostic clinical equipment.

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Creditworthiness, Collateral, Capital

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written by bill kopp

There are multiple funding options that Western North Carolina entrepreneurs and startups can avail themselves of, from crowdfunding and small business lenders to traditional banking institutions and the angel/venture capitalist sector—each resource carrying its own advantages and disadvantages. All of them agree, however, that doing one’s homework and being prepared to learn are paramount. August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 37


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N

ineteenth century poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with the aphorism, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” Emerson, however, didn’t consider the start-up and other business costs associated with getting a mousetrap business off the ground. And he never had to seek out large-scale financing; by age 35 he had inherited funds equivalent to more than $620,000 in today’s dollars. Today’s entrepreneur understands that while a good idea is a necessary ingredient, it’s only the barest of a beginning for a successful venture. Many potentially successful business ventures never get out of the starting gate; without capital, ideas can often amount to nothing. If conditions—and there are many—are right, funds can be available to help bring a new venture into existence, or to nurture a fledgling one. But each funding source carries with it a host of characteristics and variables; some funding types may make perfect sense for one entrepreneur while being a poor fit for another. So, it’s important to become familiar with and understand the various categories of funding sources; only then can a business person seeking capital make an informed decision about which to pursue.

What’s in Your Wallet? The first source to which most entrepreneurs turn for funding is themselves. Cash on hand, savings, and assets that can be liquefied with relative ease can provide seed money. Oftentimes, credit cards are put into service; for an individual with good credit, many cards offer brief “no interest” promotional financing with up to a year 38

| August 2018

to repay, adding a transaction fee—typically 3% of the amount financed. This scheme imposes a stiff penalty of high accrued interest if the balance is not paid in full by the end of the promotional period. Still, for the entrepreneur who is sure that other funds will come by the end of that term, such an arrangement is as close to “free money” as can be imagined, but the amount available is customarily at or below the card holder’s credit limit—and obviously carries a significant amount of personal risk.

The “Friends and Family” Plan The next source the entrepreneur might approach is his or her community: family members and friends. In the world of finance, this type of financing is known as “dumb money.” In this context, the term refers not to the intelligence of those providing the funds, but rather to the fact that those individuals are making funds available to their friend or relative based on the relationship, not necessarily upon analysis of the worthiness of a business plan or the viability of the proposed endeavor. While some family members and friends may have a background in business and/or finance, in general, those with personal relationships to an entrepreneur are not innately possessed of any special skills that would allow them to judge the financial risks associated with an investment. It’s rare for “dumb money” financing to include a formal valuation of the business, and the agreement—such as it is—between entrepreneur and lender is often as informal as a handshake, with no documentation or specified terms whatsoever. In any event, even if the business owner is successful at enlisting the financial assistance from friends and family, the resulting funding often doesn’t add up to enough to make a substantial difference. And if the venture isn’t successful—a measure that in this case can be a very subjective one, but for the purposes of our conversation here, we’ll define “success” as having the ability to pay back the loan, or buy back the equity—the cost to the entrepreneur might be measured not only in monetary terms but in lost friendships, or worse. So from here the entrepreneur often must explore other options, each with a character of increasing formality.


SOURCE KEY: Crowdsurfing the Money Pit Taking a page from the creative world, some entrepreneurs have ventured into the world of crowdfunding, which in recent years has had growing importance as a source of much-needed capital for young companies. A definite step up from “dumb money,” the most recent “equity crowdfunding” model requires that the business owner develops and shares its business plan and other financial details with potential investors. However, this evolving new source of financing is also a very important new funding alternative for young companies, according to Bruce Roberts, president of Brevardbased Carolina Financial Group. Some “rewards-based” crowdfunding, the first form of crowdfunding, is not investment per se; but a funding alternative wherein the party providing cash may (and typically does) eventually receive a product or service of some sort as a recognition for their participation. But the value of that premium is relatively small, and certainly not commensurate with the value of the funding being provided at the time it is being provided. The platform known as Kickstarter, which typically employs a kind of “prepayment” model for a product or service, often comes to mind when people think of crowdfunding. Equity crowdfunding, on the other hand, stems from the Obama-era JOBS Act which was signed into law in 2012. The JOBS Act “established crowdfunding provisions that allow early-stage businesses to offer and sell securities,” with supporting regulations finalized in 2016 by each of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a self-regulatory organization of the securities industry). Before that time, such private investment was only available to more wealthy individuals and the offerings could not be made publicly. Now, with equity crowdfunding, investors having lesser amounts of wealth can participate in publicly announced offerings, which significantly improves the prospects of smaller companies looking for more modest amounts of start-up or growth capital. For business owners, equity crowdfunding carries with it greater oversight and regulation than rewards-based crowdfunding because a securities offering (equity or debt) actually takes place. Companies are not allowed to offer equity crowdfunding investment directly; they are required by law to work through formally established funding portals or broker-dealer arrangements, all of which are aggressively regulated by the SEC and FINRA.

Banks: “Because that’s where the money is.” In this hierarchy of capital sources, this is the point at which the more traditional banks enter the picture. On one hand, this inevitably means that the cost to the entrepreneur

FINRA = Financial Industry Regulatory Authority CDFIs = Community Development Financial Institutions CSBDF = Carolina Small Business Development Fund SBTDC = Small Business and Technology Development Center SEC = Securities Exchange Commission Hendrix = Perry Hendrix senior vice president and commercial lending manager at First Bank Sloan = Ross Sloan market president at Asheville-based HomeTrust Bank Hatley = Jane B. Hatley Western North Carolina regional director and business development officer at Self-Help Credit Union Youngblood = Christopher Youngblood commercial banking relationship manager at PNC Bank Kimberly = John Kimberly president and CEO of Carolina Alliance Bank Fitzsimmons = Patrick Fitzsimmons executive director at Mountain BizWorks Anuel = Zurilma Anuel Latino Program director for the Carolina Small Business Development Fund Dennison = Sandra Dennison regional center director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center McLamb = Michael McLamb managing director of the Pinnacle Enterprise Fund Duncan = Clark Duncan Asheville Angels / executive director of the Economic Development Coalition Clark = Paul Clark VentureSouth managing director Fowler = Todd Fowler ALFIE loans chief financial officer Bruce Roberts = President of Brevardbased Carolina Financial Group August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 39


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rises, but the rigor associated with bank loans often lends tacit or explicit approval, serving notice that the entrepreneur’s plans have been vetted and found worthy. Clearly, creditworthiness is the most basic criteria considered by a lender. But in and of itself, an excellent credit rating is rarely enough to secure a bank loan. An informal survey of lending officials with five banks and credit unions servicing Western North Carolina reveals consensus concerning the key qualities lenders look for in someone seeking capital for their business venture. Unsurprisingly, having a solid business plan tops the list. When reviewing funding requests, bank lenders take measure of the experience level of the company’s principals; several note that a succession plan for leadership must be in place before they’ll even consider a

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MOST COMMONLY-CITED CAUSES FOR LENDING CONCERN

• LACK OF PREPAREDNESS • LACK OF CAPITAL • AN UNDER-QUALIFIED TEAM • RELUCTANCE TO PROVIDE ALL OF THE INFORMATION NEEDED FOR A THOROUGH CREDIT REPORT

loan. (For a discussion about succession plans, read “Family Business Succession Begins With A Conversation” in the May 2015 issue of this magazine, and “Keyword: Legacy” in the December 2017 issue.) Collateral is important, as is the level of equity investment in the project by the principals. Perry Hendrix (senior vice president and commercial lending manager at First Bank) looks for the borrower’s equity to represent a full 25% of total funding. “When it’s less, we can look to the SBA, USDA, and other programs to assist with leverage,” he says. Ability to pay is among the most basic requirements; so too is [emphasis added] 40

| August 2018

“a payment history that shows a willingness to repay,” says Ross Sloan, market president at Asheville-based HomeTrust Bank. Personal and/or business real estate is among the most common type of collateral, though “many of our borrowers don’t have this,” says Jane B. Hatley, Western North Carolina regional director and business development officer at Self-Help Credit Union. Other things considered for collateral include the business’ physical assets (furniture and equipment) and even accounts receivable. “The collateral for lines of credit is usually accounts receivable and inventory,” Sloan says. And while higher-risk loans might require more collateral, Christopher Youngblood, commercial banking relationship manager at PNC Bank, notes that smaller loans might be unsecured. Banks also look at the market as a whole, considering forecasts regarding the future of a given market segment; funding requests from a business in a market with an uncertain future are less appealing to characteristically riskaverse bank lenders. The entrepreneur should be able to demonstrate potential access to other funds, as well as a secondary source of repayment should the first one fails. And lenders like to see reserves that will support the business’ future working capital needs. Relationships play a part, and that’s where working with a locally-based lender (or one with a significant local presence) makes sense. Bankers look more favorably upon a request from an entrepreneur who has done business with their bank in the past, as well as those who are likely to do additional business (in the form of loans or other bank services) in the future. The bankers interviewed for this story indicate funding ranges anywhere from several thousand dollars up to (in some cases) $10 million or more. The cost to the borrower—based on Prime rate plus additional interest—also varies based on the bank’s assessment of risk. Bank lenders are by their nature fiscally conservative, so they’re on the lookout for red flags. The most commonly-cited causes for concern center around the potential borrower’s lack of preparedness, lack of capital, an under-qualified team, and reluctance to provide all of the information needed for a thorough credit report. In Western North Carolina manufacturing and retail are currently attractive areas for bank funding. Hatley specifically mentions Self-Help Credit Union’s interest in renewable


My best energy and/or efficiency-related fields. And because CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions) have a brief that differs from traditional banks, they often add some additional criteria into the mix. Hatley notes that a new program will soon be launched by the City of Asheville and Buncombe County. “The Mountain Community Capital Fund will have a special focus on making loans to people of color,” she says, “and Self-Help is one of the lenders in that program.” (The other two CDFI lenders in Western North Carolina are

Advice for

WOMEN IN BUSINESS IS... ... I’ve learned that no single individual possesses all the skills, talents, and knowledge needed to run a successful business. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses helps when it comes to gathering the correct people, financial resources, and technical know-how. — Vicky Scott

“Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Really smart people learn from the mistakes of others and spare themselves the pain.” Mountain BizWorks and the Carolina Small Business Development Fund; more on those below.) Most bank lenders interviewed agree that some business areas are overexposed (or in danger of overexposure) in Western North Carolina. Small retail establishments, coffee shops, and start-up restaurants are viewed as riskier than other businesses, say the bankers. The hotel and multi-family construction markets are also being closely watched. “We have to monitor occupancy data on a constant basis in order to determine how much additional growth our local economy can absorb,” says Hendrix. Bank lenders serving the Western North Carolina market cite successes in the expected areas: real estate, microbreweries, hospitality, and retail.

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August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 41


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HomeTrust Bank’s Sloan mentions a recent notable success: “We entered a relationship with Highland Brewing Company’s Oscar Wong and Leah Wong Ashburn, providing loans for their facility and equipment.” HomeTrust also provided treasury services solutions that help Highland with how it pays vendors and receives money from customers. Self-Help points to its role in helping many Asheville-based businesses get started; that list includes Salsa’s, West End Bakery, Shoji Spa, Regency Park Child Care, Blue Ridge Biofuels, and others. PNC Bank’s Youngblood says, “We have a ‘box,’ so to speak, that we work within, one that mirrors what we’re best at. When we stick to what we’re good at doing, the bank has very little losses, and our clients and borrowers have the best experience.” Adds Youngblood, “The dollars that different banks and funding organizations loan to businesses look and feel the same.” But as a group, the bank lenders surveyed agree that the oneon-one business relationship they can offer is a chief advantage to the potential borrower. “Doing business with a smaller institution like ours means that you are dealing with a decision maker,” says John Kimberly, president and CEO of Carolina Alliance Bank. And First Bank’s Hendrix says that the professional advice that comes with his bank’s financing makes it a better option than crowd funding. The most oft-mentioned tip for entrepreneurs from regional bank lenders is simple and straightforward: Don’t go it alone; seek advice from peers and experts. “Sometimes it’s not about having the best or greatest ideas,” says Hendrix. “It’s about execution and focus on your plan.” “Smart people learn from their own mistakes,” adds HomeTrust’s Sloan. “Really smart people learn from the mistakes of others and spare themselves the pain.” (Ed. Note: Which is precisely why Capital at Play magazine exists: To share the expertise of entrepreneurs and to inspire others to go and do likewise.)

Small Business is Big Business Small business lenders share a perspective similar to that shared by bankers, although because the nature of their business focuses on providing financing for a particular segment of the overall business market, their priorities 42

| August 2018

differ in some key ways. And within the small business lending community, specific resources are available to help the entrepreneur navigate the process of seeking capital. The basic criteria for those seeking funds are similar to the ones laid out by banks. Patrick Fitzsimmons, executive director at Mountain BizWorks, looks for “entrepreneurial zest and good character” as well. He favors potential borrowers who “have participated, or are willing to participate, in our business training or coaching programs. We are here to help businesses start, grow, and thrive.” Zurilma Anuel is Latino Program director for the Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF), and she says that project feasibility is a critical element: “Does it make sense, and is it accomplishable at the stated amount?” she asks borrowers. Mountain BizWorks provides microloans and small business loans from $1000 to $250,000 with interest rates in the 7% to 10% range on a five-year term. The CSBDF typically makes loans in the same range. Anuel says her organization also does larger loans, “primarily involved with or secured by real estate.” Lack of preparedness tops small business lenders’ list of red flags; Anuel notes that if other parts of the borrower’s plan are solid, “pre-loan technical assistance will be required before capital can be committed.” Fitzsimmons says that Mountain BizWorks finds business proposals attractive that deal with agriculture, manufacturing, and job creation, as well as ones from companies “owned by entrepreneurs of color.” Anuel says that her institution doesn’t prefer one industry group over another, but points out CSBDF’s Veterans Direct Loan Program, with its “added focus on funding businesses run by veterans who have a strong business plan.” As far as business plans that are less likely to gain approval, Anuel cites the national market: “Food trucks, hair salons, and bakeries are over-saturating the market; too few are bringing a unique product or brand that will attract and maintain customers.” Small business lenders do not typically take an equity interest in their borrowers’ business; Anuel notes, “We are not financial advisors and do not engage in the direct management of our clients’ business.” Lenders do, however, want to see their clients “have some skin in the game and [be] committed to success,” according to Fitzsimmons, who adds that “some CDFIs are


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beginning to make equity investments, and BizWorks has experimented with this and is examining the benefits of doing more as many who need such investments are being driven to predatory lending options.” Anuel says for loans from her institution, “any person with a 20% or more ownership interest in the business must personally guaranty the loan. In general, we require a 10% equity injection into the project.”

“Venture capital differs significantly from bank and small business loans. While the acquisition of venture capital has the same goal—funding a business—the cost to the entrepreneur is quite different.” Loans involving real estate require higher equity injection, she says. Mountain BizWorks can point to a long list of successful ventures in Western North Carolina. Fitzsimmons mentions two in particular. “Marion Fabric and Upholstery is a mission-driven business that hires ex-offenders as workers and is owned by two longtime industry veterans,” he says. “Hi-Wire Brewing started with us as a learning client several years ago; they participated in our program thoroughly, opened a tasting room, later expanded, and now employ dozens of workers.” Mountain BizWorks also provided the first capital for FLS Energy; that firm grew its business and “sold last year for millions,” Fitzsimmons says.


CSBDF’s Anuel cites the success story of Alejandro Hernandez Herrera, an Asheville entrepreneur originally from Mexico. Herrera developed his skills working with a painting company, with plans of starting his own business. A loan from CSBDF helped him acquire transportation equipment to launch his own company, King of Kings. “I didn’t know I could, but I did it,” Herrera told Anuel. Mountain BizWorks makes training and coaching a key component of every loan. “We believe in the value of small businesses to our economy and in the likelihood of their success when we provide the nurturing they require,” adds Fitzsimmons. CSBDF has a similar focus, accomplished through “our business advisors, women’s business/entrepreneurial centers, and other standing programs,” Anuel says. “We also consider our underwriting criteria and terms more flexible than traditional lenders, providing more broad access to capital.” Anuel and Fitzsimmons agree that seeking guidance and advice is critical to the success of a new business venture. And knowledge about the types of financing available is one of the most important subjects the entrepreneur should explore. “While there are only a few ‘types’ of loans,” Anuel cautions, “the ultimate cost to the borrower—fees and interest—can vary greatly from one lender to the next.” “Knowledge is power,” says Sandra Dennison, regional center director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at Western Carolina University. “Managing a business means making serious and difficult decisions, but you don’t have to do it alone.” The SBTDC does not administer loans, grants, or investment capital; instead, Dennison says that her organization “can help identify sources and increase the quality of applications and proposals.” She says that all lenders focus on the “five Cs of credit: character, capacity, capital, collateral, and conditions.” The SBTDC helps entrepreneurs address each of those concerns. Several SBTDC counselors have specialized financing knowledge in business credit, real estate finance analysis, loan packaging procedures, negotiating and problem solving skills, and deal structuring techniques, Dennison says. The Center helps businesses prepare for a wide variety of funding types including traditional bank loans, SBA-guaranteed loans, Federal R&D and commercialization funding,

equity capital investment, and even international export financing. Dennison says that in the last three years, “SBTDC at WCU has helped businesses obtain over $11 million in revenue to either start or grow their business.” Also here in Western North Carolina, A-B Tech offers a wealth of resources for the small business entrepreneur; many are free or lowcost. Through the NC Small Business Center Network, the community college offers online entrepreneurship training. The school offers classes, interactive workshops, and free business seminars at its main and satellite campuses. And

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Our Better Angels: Adventures in Venture Capital Venture capital differs significantly from bank and small business loans. While the acquisition of venture capital has the same goal—funding a business—the cost to the entrepreneur is quite different. Rather than simply providing a collateralized loan, venture capitalists—some of whom are described as “angel investors”— assume a stake in the business itself. In some ways, the documented creditworthiness of the entrepreneur is less important to the August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 45


Bob Donnan Photography

A

nd

Recognizing

BEN

HAMRICK

2018 CPA Pinnacle Award Recipient

re w

Ma yP hoto grap

hy

ROLLIN

GROSECLOSE

2017- 2018 NCACPA Board of Directors Chair

for their outstanding service with NORTH CAROLINA ASSOCIATION OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS NCACPA would like to thank Ben Hamrick and Rollin Groseclose, of Johnson Price Sprinkle PA, for their service and contributions to both our Association and to the CPA profession. It is an honor to recognize Rollin for his integral role as 2017–2018 Chair of the NCACPA Board of Directors, and Ben as the recipient of the CPA Pinnacle Award, the highest honor bestowed upon an NCACPA member.” SHARON H. BRYSON, M.ED. CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, NCACPA

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local industry

venture capitalist. “Generally, the companies we consider investing in have little or no operating history and consequently have difficulties receiving funding from traditional sources,” says Michael McLamb, managing director of the Pinnacle Enterprise Fund, LLC, a self-described angel investment fund focused on early and growth stage ventures in Western North Carolina. Though each deal is unique, he says his fund will “invest up to $100,000 of preferred equity for a minority stake in the company.” Asheville Angels and VentureSouth are similar in that respect. “At Asheville Angels, we’re interested in early-stage, high-potential companies that typically raise between $250,000 and $1,000,000,” says Clark Duncan, who is now executive director of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville and Buncombe County. “We consider this an institutional seed round,” he says. VentureSouth Managing Director Paul Clark says his fund looks for companies raising similar levels of capital. “We invest $100,000 to $800,000,” he says. “We invest equity, so there isn’ t really a ‘cost of funds’ to the entrepreneur. However, we are buying a share of the company, generally 10% to 35%, depending on the valuation of the company.” Pinnacle’s McLamb notes that his company “require[s] representation on the Board of Directors, voting, liquidation, and information rights.” For venture capital/angel investors, a primary focus is… focus. “We expect entrepreneurs raising capital to be 100% focused on the company for which they are raising capital,” Duncan says. “If they have two companies but are only offering equity in one of them, we will pass on the deal. We want to see a 100% commitment to growing the value of our investment.” McLamb has a similar perspective. “We’re interested in scalable businesses that have skilled, focused, and determined management teams, not small or lifestyle businesses,” he says. Pinnacle looks for companies with management that is “coachable” and possessed of a strong desire for an eventual exit from the capitalization. McLamb is wary of companies run by people with unrealistic expectations, relying excessively on ifs and whens: “If we can get a sale…” “When we have this, we can…” ALFIE Loans focuses exclusively on real estate bridge loans. “We’ve established a fund that’s over $24 million now,” says Todd Fowler, the

firm’s chief financial officer. “All of the underwriting and credit decisions are made at this office, and the 120 members of the fund have an equal portion of all of our current 88 loans; it’s a pool fund.” Fowler indicates that his fund’s largest current loan is $4.2 million. Unlike typical venture capital arrangements, ALFIE charges interest instead of investing equity. “Our current interest rate is 10.75%,” he says. “We’re in that high-risk part of lending that is the interim where an investor has an idea and a little bit of money and a property, and we help them get from there to a completed project.” Pinnacle Enterprise Fund is attracted to business that can generate at least a 50% annualized return on investment for five years after an investment is executed, McLamb says. (“We’re really looking for companies that are building rocket ships for growth, so to speak,” agrees Clark Duncan.) And while Pinnacle’s fund doesn’t focus on one specific type of business or industry, McLamb says that they prefer companies based in (or with operations in) Western North Carolina. For entrepreneurs considering venture capital or angel investment, it’s important to think big. “We don’t invest in companies that are solely serving the Asheville market,” Duncan says. “We invest in companies based in Asheville that have plans to become national and global companies.” But some businesses aren’t a good fit for their model. “We receive a lot of requests for capital for breweries, which do not really fit our investment criteria,” says Duncan. And while McLamb says that the alcohol and brewery market nationwide remains attractive, that’s not as true in Western North Carolina. “Locally, that market seems saturated,” he says. Regionally, venture capital and angel investments have enjoyed high—and high-profile—levels of success. Duncan mentions two recent ventures: “In Asheville, we’ve invested into Plum Print and Brightfield Transportation Solutions both of which are primed for future growth.” (See elsewhere in this issue for our profile of Brightfield; Plum Print was profiled in the November 2016 issue.) And Asheville Angels recently saw its portfolios’ first exit event, returning capital to investors with the acquisition of FarmShots, a firm that analyzes satellite and drone imagery of farms, by Swissbased agribusiness Syngenta AG. VentureSouth’s Paul Clark points to some of his company’s recent successes. “We have exited August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 47


local industry

BEING MORTAL

“Hope is not a plan.”

two portfolio companies this year, one of which generated a 2x return in one year and the other a 9.5x return in just over two years.” Locally, the fund has also invested in Brightfield Transportation Solutions. “They have some very interesting growth opportunities ahead of them now,” Clark says. Vendor Registry is one of Pinnacle’s portfolio companies. Offering a procurement platform for small and mid-size municipalities to procure services in a more competitive and

entrepreneurs building high-growth companies who will go through walls to do what it takes to make that happen,” says Clark Duncan. But for those with the drive, venture capital funding is worth serious consideration. “There are very few [other] places in the Southeast where you can find risk-tolerant equity capital,” emphasizes Paul Clark. And when conditions are right, things can be set in motion quickly. “We give a quick ‘no,’” says Clark. “And we generally

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efficient manner, Vendor Registry recently “saved the taxpayers of Myrtle Beach $90,000 on a single project,” McLamb says. All of the high-end investors interviewed for this feature agree that venture capital only makes sense if the entrepreneur’s commitment is rock-solid. “Our funding is appropriate for

Angels has another advantage: simplicity. “Even though we might have 50 investors participating in a given investment, the entrepreneur only has one entity on his/her share register.”

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“Our skin is in the game,” emphasizes Michael McLamb. “We invest to make money, but we’re ready and willing to help you execute the business. Oftentimes we’ll be able to make some key introductions and facilitate partnerships to help the business gain traction and scale.” And the experience and expertise of venture capitalist/angel investors can be invaluable. “Most angel investors are entrepreneurs themselves,” McLamb says. “They’ve been where you are, know and understand what you’re going through, and have realized success from their ventures.” The experts have some simple (if familiar) advice for the entrepreneur seeking capital: Do your homework. “We lay out on our website exactly what we are looking for and even how to pitch to us,” Clark says. “We have frequent educational events, webinars, etc., too. Entrepreneurs that review these materials before approaching us make a much better first impression than those that do not.” “Study from other successful entrepreneurs,” McLamb says. “You don’t have to reinvent or create new ways to build a business. Get outside of your comfort zone, acknowledge what you don’t know, and learn as much as you can while still executing the business.”

The Bottom Line The entrepreneur seeking business funding has many options. Each carries with it a number of unique characteristics; there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to accessing capital. Each business owner must practice due diligence and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each; with increased funds come increased demands. For some entrepreneurs, yielding an equity stake to investors may be the most straightforward and effective means of securing the capital needed to move forward. For others, more conventional methods—bank loans, business loans—might be a better solution. The unifying reality is that the only way to know which means of funding is most suitable is to take at least some of the advice proffered by the lending experts quoted here: Seek advice from those with experience, be flexible, be thorough and forthright, and—most of all—be ready to learn.

August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 49


column

The Mother of Good Luck { part 1 }

Pre-closing due diligence with commercial real estate helps avoid post-closing remorse.

Y

OUR BUSINESS HAS TAKEN OFF,

and you’ve been searching for that perfect 7,500-sq.-ft. building on an acre of land close to town, with parking and a view, and you’ve finally found it. Mission accomplished, right?

J

joanne morgan

is an Asheville native, and an attorney with Ward and Smith, P.A.'s Asheville office.

50

Not so fast—before you become the proud new owner of that real estate, you are going to want to know many details about its past ownership, past uses, and any available information in the public records. What you learn during your “due diligence period,” sometimes called the “inspection period,” will either solidify the fact that you’ve found your perfect piece of property, or that you should terminate your contract before your due diligence period comes to an end.

Make Sure Your Contract Includes a Satisfactory Due Diligence Period Any well written contract for the purchase of commercial real estate will contain a provision allowing a due diligence period, during which time you, as the prospective buyer, have the opportunity to uncover key information about the real estate prior to purchasing it. | August 2018

The due diligence period in your contract should be long enough to allow you to conduct the inspections mentioned below, plus any additional ones that may be necessary to investigate whether requirements unique to your business, industry, or intended use of the property can be satisfied. To make sure you have time to get the help you need, you should consult with prospective inspectors, such as title attorneys, surveyors, and engineers, to determine what their schedules will allow before you set a time period. While the due diligence process can be somewhat costly, a thoroughly conducted one can help you avoid countless amounts of stress, costs, and legal liability if after you have become the new owner of the property it turns out the property has serious problems or is useless for your intended use of it. Most often, you will place an earnest money deposit in escrow (i.e. in a trust account held by your attorney, the seller’s attorney, or any real estate


J broker involved in your purchase). The deposit is typically: • Held until the Closing date, at which time it is applied towards your purchase price; • Returned to you if you or the seller terminates your contract prior to the end of your due diligence period; or, • Released to the seller if you fail to terminate the contract by the end of the due diligence period and don’t close on the purchase of the real estate. Here is list of key due diligence tools you and (and hopefully your attorney) should include in any purchase contract and use during this critical pre-closing period.

driveway in order for the neighboring owner and the owner’s customers to access the neighbor’s business. Maybe that driveway now exists, or previously existed, right over the portion of the property on which you intend to build an expensive building! Would you rather negotiate with that neighbor to release or move the easement before you purchase the property, or after you have bought it and, perhaps, built a multi-million dollar building over it? Or, you’re looking to purchase a busy existing bed and breakfast, and find that a prior owner had once given the neighboring property owners the right to utilize the swimming pool and tennis courts located on the property back when those amenities weren’t in high demand. Once you open the bed and

AN EFFECTIVE “CHAIN OF TITLE” SEARCH TYPICALLY INVESTIGATES AT LEAST THE MOST RECENT THIRTY YEARS OF PRIOR OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTY. Title Examination You should have an experienced real estate attorney search the legal chain of title to the property. An effective “chain of title” search typically investigates at least the most recent 30 years of prior ownership of the property, and whether or not the prior owners placed any restrictions on the real property by way of an easement or other lien, or had a judgment or any other monetary lien imposed on them which might constitute an encumbrance on the title that you, as the new owner, may have to pay to get “good title” to the property. An easement provides someone other than the legal owner of real estate with a right to utilize the real estate for some purpose. For example, a prior owner may have given a neighboring business owner a right-of-way over a

breakfast, and there is high demand, how will you explain the “neighbors” to your guests? You definitely want to know if neighboring property owners or any other third parties will have the legal right to use the property you are looking to buy in any manner, especially before you actually own it. Alternatively, if you’re ever the one acquiring the right to utilize someone else’s property, you’ll want to understand the scope or limitations of that right, and whether or not you have any legal obligation to maintain the easement area. Other easements, such as utility easements for power lines or sewer service, typically don’t present any cause for concern, though your attorney will want to understand where they are located in relation to any buildings existing or to be built on the property.

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column

For example, if you plan to build a 20,000-sq.-ft. warehouse on a piece of property, you would want to know whether a 200-foot-wide high-voltage powerline easement is located on the property, and, if so, where it might be located in relation to where you want to build. Better to know before closing, rather than after, that there is a possibility, however small, that the

THE SURVEY WILL ALSO ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE LEGAL ACCESS TO THE PROPERTY FROM PUBLIC ROADS. out-of-state electric utility owner may one day demand that your building be moved, or that you pay the utility a lot of money to relocate its easement. Other potential “encumbrances” on the chain of title, such as restrictive covenants, must be reviewed to ensure that your intended use of the property is not prohibited or limited in a way to make the property much less attractive to you. Additionally, a restrictive covenant might limit where you

can locate commercial signage on the property, or the type of construction that is acceptable within a commercial building or commercial business park. Finally, any mortgages, judgment liens, or other liens that have encumbered title to the property will be documented and you can require they be paid off at closing out of the seller’s proceeds, so that you acquire title to the property free of any prior owner-related liabilities.

Survey There are many reasons why you need a survey of the property before purchasing it. If you’re lucky, the seller will have a survey that is less than 10 years old; your purchase contract should obligate the seller to share the survey and other title documents with you. You may want to rely upon that survey if you are willing to take the risk that nothing has happened in the interim. Otherwise, you should certainly hire a surveyor to prepare a new survey (and if you decide to “pass” on the purchase after seeing the survey, sometimes you can sell that survey to another potential buyer to recoup your expense). A survey will allow you to see exactly where the property lines are located, if any buildings on adjacent land encroach on the property, or if any building you want to use on the property you are purchasing encroaches on adjacent land.

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The survey will also ensure that you have legal access to the property from public roads, either directly or with the use of an easement. Nobody wants to purchase a parcel of real estate, only to discover that there is no vehicular access to public roads without crossing over a hostile neighbor’s property. A new survey will also reflect whether any adjacent property owner’s signage, fence, or buildings, or parking areas are encroaching on a part of the property you’re about to purchase, though it may also reveal that the seller’s parking lot, which you intend to use, encroaches upon your neighbor’s property! In such instances, you may require your seller to obtain an easement or right-of-way from the adjacent property owner prior to the closing, so that you’re not required to stop using the existing parking area after closing, only to find that there isn’t enough room on your property to replace it, however much you’re willing to spend to do so. Sometimes, a seller will have to pay the adjacent property owner for that easement. If the seller or the adjacent owner refuses to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, you can withdraw your offer before the expiration of your due diligence period and recover your earnest money deposit. Either way, by getting it resolved (or having the seller resolve it) before you become obligated to purchase the property, or by finding it can’t be resolved, you’re avoiding any unexpected

demands from a neighboring property owner post-closing. You might even find a problem like this to be a negotiation point you can use to get a better price for the property, even if it wouldn’t prohibit you from using the property as you intend. If you’re buying an undeveloped piece of property and intend to construct any buildings on it, you’ll want a survey to show you the “lay of the land” before you begin construction. If you’re acquiring construction financing, your lender will require a survey of the unimproved property before construction, as well as an as-built survey that reflects the status of the property and the building(s) located on it once the improvements have been constructed. Finally, your attorney might find that the legal description within the property's chain of title is quite old and unclear, or even fatally in error. For example, if the property’s “metes and bounds” description (a legal description that uses compass points and distances to certain points of reference) makes reference to trees, creeks (or even berries and acorns resting on rocks—true story…) as the points of reference between distances, it’s quite possible that those points of reference no longer exist, in which case, your description should make reference to the survey you have commissioned and recorded in the official land records prior to closing. Next month in Part 2: Environmental Inspection, Zoning Compliance, and more

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leisure & libation

Adventure

Slingers

written by shawndr a russell

Enjoying all the outdoor thrills and sights that Western North Carolina has to offer starts with having the right gear and the right guidance from the professionals at area outfitters.

photo courtesy of th Nantahala Outdoor Center August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 55


leisure & libation

ach year, the outdoor recreation industry rakes in about $900 billion in consumer spending, outpacing both the oil and gas industries. And according to the Outdoor Industry Association, about 3% of that activity happens in North Carolina, generating $1.3 billion in tax revenue and over $8 billion in wages and salaries. With the state’s newly-formed NC Outdoor Recreation Industry Office—making North Carolina one of only eight states to have such an entity and the first in the South—the state’s $28 billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry will certainly grow under the tutelage of David Knight, former assistant secretary for Natural Resources for North Carolina and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University. This new office will focus, in part, on recruiting more recreation businesses to the state, working alongside current owners and advocates, and motivating the 44% of state residents who don’t currently play outside to get off the couch. Western North Carolina’s great outdoors have certainly helped push North Carolina’s outdoor industry to new heights, racking up accolades like Outdoor magazine dubbing Asheville the “Best Summer Day” city in 2017 and Matador Network proposing in 2016 that “Asheville might just be the top outdoors town in America.” The region also has its own coalition, Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina, a 30-member group that’s been showcasing our area as the East Coast’s hub for outdoor gear manufacturers since 2013. Asheville also hosted the Asheville Confluence Summit in early July, when leaders from the eight outdoor recreation powerhouses of Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming, and North Carolina gathered. Collectively called the “ORec 8,” the group aims to host regular summits to develop principles related to four areas: economic development, conservation and stewardship, education and workforce development, and public health and wellness. July’s summit marked yet another milestone for our outdoor recreation industry since it was only the second time these leaders have gathered to further strengthen their collective vision to grow and protect the outdoor industry sector. It’s worth noting that the twice-annual gathering of outdoor recreation enthusiast and vendors, Overland Expo, will be staging their November 9-11 event at REEB Ranch near Asheville and Hendersonville. Overland Expo East will not only feature more than 150 exhibitors, there will also be 175 classes in everything from how to properly prepare a pack for camping and hiking and “cool campcraft for kids,” to off-roading instruction and adventure/landscape photography. 56

| August 2018

photo by Shane Benedict of Liquidlogic


photo cour tesy Liquidlogic

OUTDOOR 76

Certainly, more work can be done to grow this sector faster and easier in Western North Carolina as evident at a recent local meeting with Director Knight as part of his statewide listening tour. Many recreation leaders shared their ideas for growing the recreation industry in the area, including: • Increasing international marketing efforts • More flexibility about how cities can use occupancy tax funds • Higher wages • Improved insurance policies • High-speed internet throughout Western North Carolina

IN NORTH CAROLINA OUTDOOR RECREATION GENERATES

$28 260, $8.3 Billion 000 Billion In consumer spending annually

Direct Jobs

In wages and salaries

Statistics Courtesy Outdoor Industry Association

• More lodging options • Instilling a love of the outdoors in area youth through discounts and programs As lawmakers, entrepreneurs, and officials look to address these issues, many of us will spend the summer enjoying all the adventures to be had in our area’s vast array of mountains, waterways, and forests. In between adventures, we’ll hunt for our next piece of outdoor gear to add to our ever-growing collections, so that the next time we head outside, it’ll be even better than the last. To help you get the most of your time outdoors, we’ve collected over 40 area outfitters, manufacturers, and retailers that stock new or used gear or lead guided expeditions and educational experiences (see p. 62). Seven of these businesses gave us details of how they run things.

KAYAKING/CANOEING

Liquidlogic The folks behind Fletcher’s Liquidlogic have made fairly quick work out of becoming a global player in kayak manufacturing in just 18 years of operations. Today, they have distribution centers in Japan, Russia, New Zealand, and Europe, but every single kayak is built in their Fletcher factory. “We chose to open in WNC to be close to some of the best paddling in the world. With rivers like the Green River, the Nolichucky, the Watauga, and many others, the region is pretty much a paddling mecca,” explains Liquidlogic’s director of marketing, Tyler Brown. Their state-of-the-art factory, which offers free tours on the first August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 57


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Friday of every month, also houses a sewing team who hand sews each kayak seat. Brown actually works for BIG Adventures, LLC, the umbrella company that manufactures three different kayak brands with distinct specialties. Liquidlogic is known for their whitewater kayaks, while Native Watercraft focuses on fishing kayaks with their patent-pending Propel Pedal Drive system that makes for hands-free forwarding and reversing. Plus, their Hurricane kayaks have become coveted for being some of the lightest kayaks on the market. “It seems like every year, more and more people are wanting to get on North Carolina’s waterways, so business has grown steadily as a whole over the years,” Brown shares. For those ready to try whitewater paddling, Brown advises they “definitely get some quality instruction. Getting the fundamentals down will allow you to really enjoy being in whitewater in a kayak.” As for where to go, Brown suggests one of the three sections along the Green River for whitewater paddling, or Lake Jocassee for recreational paddling. He’s also on a mission to get more people kayaking year-round in the Southeast and other regions around the world by investing in “the right gear.”

Nantahala Outdoor Center Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), located near Bryson City, and America’s largest outdoor recreation company, welcomes more than a million visitors each year, with many coming to learn at their world-famous paddling school that has featured several Olympic instructors. Even with all this recognition globally, North Carolina accounts still make up 25% of NOC’s business. And thanks to the explosive growth of the outdoor recreation industry in the 45+ years since NOC’s founding, they now have three stores and eight river outposts. “[Founder] Payson Kennedy identified the potential of the Nantahala Gorge early on and built a booming business around the outdoors in WNC,” explains Jan Wotjasinski, NOC’s director of marketing. They now operate eight other outposts at Chattahoochee, Chattooga, Ocoee, Asheville, Cheoah, Pigeon, Nolichucky, and the French Broad. And while NOC provides plenty of introductory courses, they truly pride themselves on being “an incredible place to take the next step as a boater,” Wotjasinski says. These next steps might be taking an intermediate or advanced course or joining one of their international trips. But most importantly, she urges everyone to sign up for a rescue and wilderness medical course. “It’s the most valuable skill you can have on the river or in the woods, and it’s the most valuable skill your paddling/hiking/biking/climbing buddies can have. I need to remind myself of this all the time—practice makes perfect,” she adds. Paddlers can choose from their Swiftwater Rescue, Wilderness Survival School, or SOLO Wilderness Medicine course at their Bryson City hub. 58

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BL ACK DOME MOUNTAIN SPORTS photo by Oby Morgan

CLIMBING/BOULDERING

Black Dome Mountain Sports

photo cour tesy Nantahala Outdoor Center

In just Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests alone, climbers can find over 2,000 routes that contain some of the best climbing in the South and all of the East Coast. More than 200,000 people climb this region each year according to Outdoor Alliance’s “2017 Economic Impact of Rock Climbing in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests” study, and climbers spend about $14 million per year in and around these forests. About 60% of these height-defying souls are actually Western North Carolina residents, and this breakdown is on par with Black Dome’s revenue breakdown of in-towners and outof-towners. Black Dome’s co-owner, Debby Thomas, shares that they’ve had some ups and downs since opening in 1984, but business at the East Asheville store has been “generally steady” during their 34-year tenure. Her husband and co-owner, Trent, has lived in Asheville since 1972, and the couple recommend that climbers looking to stay close to Asheville check out Rumbling Bald in Hickory Nut Gap during cooler weather. They also like to steer people to Linville Gorge, which Debby describes as “a classic WNC climbing area.” For year-round climbers, Thomas recommends Looking Glass since its large surface area supplies lots of different faces that are usually accessible except during extreme winter weather. No matter where you climb, Thomas says the best things climbers can do is always seek out a local shop for advice and tips, whether they’re home or away: “These folks have local knowledge and experience and are invested in the area in which they live and work.” August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 59


leisure & libation

photo by Oby Morgan

Misty Mountain While Black Dome describes their business as a full-service outfitter for all types of mountain sports, Banner Elk’s Misty Mountain has homed in on creating top-notch harnesses for the likes of the United States Air Force and Army. “We were selected by the US Army to build the harnesses for the Army Mountain Kits,” shares the company’s president, Goose Kearse. He became the sole owner of Misty Mountain in 2015 after being part of the team for 26 years—four years after founder Woody Keen started sewing the Fudge harness, now the most widely used program harness in the world.

“WNC has the best ‘backyard’ with lots of opportunity for all sorts of outdoor recreation.” Partnerships with local Boone-area businesses like adventure parks, retailers, and climbing programs have been key to Misty Mountain’s longevity, but a majority of their business is national and international. “We manufacture thousands of harnesses every year, each one in our factory in the North Carolina High Country. We do have local customers like Rock Dimensions, Challenge Towers, High Country Hardware, and Gravity Works,” Kearse says. Misty Mountain facilitates a cut-and-sew operation, which means that component materials get shipped in and 60

| August 2018

CURTIS WRIGHT photo by Anthony Harden

then sewn together in-house. “Our harnesses have summited Mt. Everest!” he exclaims proudly. They also design harnesses for people who use wheelchairs, and they stock durable packs, “crazy” chalk bags, bomber sewn slings, and plenty of Misty Mountain-logoed trucker hats and apparel. For those not quite ready to climb Mt. Everest, Kearse recommends “the traditional bastion of Whitesides [in Jackson County near Cashiers] to the granite dome of Stone Mountain [spanning Wilkes and Alleghany Counties].” Don’t forget to do your homework: North Carolina state parks have permitting regulations that apply to rock climbing. For those wanting to travel outside of North Carolina, head to “The Gunks in New York, Paradise Forks in Arizona, Lover’s Leap in California, and Red Rocks in Nevada,” he says. But whatever you do, he adds, “please seek competent guides, like Ryan and Jenny at Rock Dimensions in Boone. Climbing is an incredible activity and we encourage everyone to try it. Get out and climb—you’ll be amazed!”


photo cour tesy Cur tis Wright

FISHING

Curtis Wright Outfitters For owner Jeff Curtis, deciding to open a fly fishing outfit here was a no-brainer. “WNC has the best ‘backyard’ with lots of opportunity for all sorts of outdoor recreation,” such as some of his favorite places to fish, like North Mills River, Big Laurel and Laurel River, and West Fork of the Pigeon River. Curtis says these and other streams designated as “Delayed Harvest” by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission are some of the best in Western North Carolina because they’re stocked five times a year during catch-and-release season (October 1 to June 1). This includes two additional places he likes to recommend: Cane River and Curtis Creek. Before opening Curtis Wright Outfitters in 2003, Jeff worked as an independent fly fishing guide and licensed falconer. (We reported on his falconry business in the April 2016 issue of this magazine.) Now, he has combined both of these skills into one business, offering year-round fly fishing and falconry experiences. A majority of their revenue comes from tourists, with about 70% of guided experiences booked by visitors (retail sales breaks down to about 50/50 in terms of locals versus visitors). For those interested in taking up fishing—or taking their fishing skills up a notch—Jeff prefers a fishpond vest/pack and thinks a “good pair of polarized sunglasses” is a must. But of course, the company’s best sellers are what happen to be the most necessary for a good day fly fishing out on the streams: Simms waders and wading boots. continued on p. 64 August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 61


leisure & libation

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> >frugal

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52 Westgate Parkway, Asheville, NC frugalbackpacker.com 828-209-1530

> >take

a hike outfitters

100 Sutton Ave, Black Mountain, NC takeahikenc.com 828-669-0811

> >bluff

mountain outfitters

152 Bridge Street, Hot Springs, NC 828-662-7162

> >highl and

hiker

47 Highway 107, Cashiers, NC and 601 Main Street, Highlands, NC (3 Highland locations) highlandhiker.com

> >bear

mountain outfitters

302 Main Street, Highlands, NC 828-526-5784

> >bryson

cit y outdoors

169 Main Street, Bryson City, NC brysoncityoutdoors.com 828-342-6444

> >mast

gener al

Original Store & Annex Highway 194, Valle Crucis, NC Other locations in Asheville, Boone, 62

| August 2018

CLIMBING

Waynesville, Hendersonville & others mastgeneralstore.com

> >three

eagles outfitters

78 Siler Road, Franklin, NC threeeaglesoutfitters.net 828-524-9061

> >outdoor 76 35 East Main Street, Franklin, NC outdoor76.com 828-349-7676

> >hike

more adventures

9041 NC-181, Newland, NC hikemoreadventures.com 828-595-4453

> >footsloggers 139 Depot Street, Boone, NC 921 Main Street, Blowing Rock, NC footsloggers.us

> >diamond

br and outdoors

53 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC South Asheville at the Parkway Center: 1378 Hendersonville Road Suite J diamondbrandoutdoors.com

> >diamond

> >climbma x 43 Wall Street, Asheville, NC 828-252-6669 climbmaxnc.com

> >smoky

mountain adventure

center

173 Amboy Road, Asheville, NC 828-505-4446 smacasheville.com

> >mist y

mountain

320 Burma Road, Banner Elk, NC 828-963-6688 mistymountain.com

> >fox

mountain guides and climbing school

234-A South Broad Street, Brevard, NC 828-284-8433 foxmountainguides.com

> >bl ack

dome mountain

sports

140 Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC 828-251-2001 blackdome.com

br and gear

145 Cane Creek Industrial Park Road Suite 100, Fletcher, NC 828-684-9848

> >diamond

br and gear microfactory

69 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC diamondbrandgear.com

FISHING > >curtis

wright outfitters

24 North Main Street Weaverville, NC 828-645-8700 curtiswrightoutfitters.com


> >brown

trout fly fishing

28 Schenck Parkway #150, Asheville, NC 803-431-9437 browntroutflyfishing.com

> >one

fly outfitters

112 Cherry Street, Black Mountain, NC 828-669-6939 oneflyoutfitters.com

> >southern

outfitters ,

drifters

101 Town Square, Burnsville, NC 828-678-1511 southerndriftersoutfitters.com

> >davidson

river outfitters

49 Pisgah Highway #6, Pisgah Forest, NC 828-877-4181 davidsonflyfishing.com

> >headwaters

fishing co .

8857 NC-105, Boone, NC 828-963-6556 foscoefishing.com

> >rivers

edge outfitters

61 Big Cove Road, Cherokee, NC 828-497-9300 wncfishing.com

> >appal achian

outfitters fly

shop

104C Tennessee Street, Murphy, NC 828-837-4165

> >elk

angler fly

shop

174 Old Shulls Mill Road, Boone NC 828-963-5050 appangler.com

> >watauga

5712 Highway 105 South, Vilas, NC 828-963-5463 rflyshop.com

> >highl and

fishing co .

4041 Todd Railroad Grade Rd, Todd, NC 336-877-3099 rivergirlfishing.com

creek outfitters

1560 NC-105, Boone, NC 828-264-6497 ecoflyfishing.com

k ayaks

210 Airport Road, Fletcher, NC 828-771-9405 liquidlogickayaks.com otter outfitters

10 Banner Farm Road, Mills River, NC 828-756-1386 lazyotteroutfitters.com

> >feelfree outfitters

4210 Mitchell Avenue #1, Linville, NC 828-733-2181 highlandoutfittersnc.com

> >rivergirl

> >liquidlogic

> >l a z y river fly shop

k ayaks

114 Buckeye Cove Road, Swannanoa, NC 828-774-5511 feelfreeus.com

> >smoky

mountain river adventures

5036 Highway 74 Whittier, NC 828- 586-5285 smokymountainriveradventures.com

> >tuck aseegee

outfitters

25 Parkway Road, Rosman, NC 828-877-3106 headwatersoutfitters.com

> >foscoe

> >appal achian

KAYAKING/CANOEING > >asheville

outdoor center

521 Amboy Road, Asheville, NC 828-232-1970 ashevilleoutdoorcenter.com

> >french

broad outfitters

704 Riverside Drive, Asheville, NC 828-505-7371 frenchbroadoutfitters.com

> >green

river adventures

111 East Main Street, Saluda, NC 828-749-2800 greenriveradventures.com

> >high

mountain expeditions

3149 Tynecastle Highway, Suite B, Banner Elk, NC 1380 NC-105 Boone, NC highmountainexpeditions.com

outfitters

4909 US-74, Whittier, NC 828-586-5050 raftnc.com

> >endless

river adventures

14157 Highway 19, Bryson City, NC 828-488-6199 endlessriveradventures.com

> >carolina

outfitters

12121 West Highway 19, Bryson City, NC 828-488-6345 carolinaoutfitters.com

> >dillsboro

river company

18 Macktown Road, Sylva, NC 828-586-3797 northcarolinarafting.com

> >nantahal a

outdoor

center

13077 W Highway 19, Bryson City, NC 828-785-5082 noc.com August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 63


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WORKING ON Wall Tent, photo cour tesy Diamond Brand Gear

Working with an experienced guide is important as well, particularly for novices, and one particular point of pride for Jeff is the number of repeat customers the business attracts. “It’s a credit to the wonderful guides we have. They are courteous, professional, and passionate about fly fishing and love sharing that passion with their guests.” Their commitment has resulted in steady growth over their 15 years in business and a growing corporate team-building division. But no matter whom Jeff and his fellow guides are working with, Curtis Wright Outfitters always emphasizes one mantra: “We like to tell folks to make sure they have a great time on the water. It isn’t about all the gear you have or about how many fish you catch—it’s about being on a beautiful stream with the water rushing past, enjoying this wonderful ‘backyard’ we have been blessed with.”

CAMPING/HIKING

Diamond Brand Gear Diamond Brand Gear has a long history of creating durable, American-made, military-tested tents and Boy Scout-approved backpacks dating back to 1881. After launching in Pennsylvania and a short stint in New York, the company moved to Western North Carolina around 1930 and has been a committed steward for our region’s environment and its employees—now 65 people strong—ever since. “We stay here because of the tremendous legacy the original owners built for us, and to be in a creative community that celebrates the outdoors,” says CEO John Delaloye. This decision has resulted in a revenue model that’s split evenly between tourists and locals, but Delaloye thinks they’ve just scratched the surface. “As we have not offered our


own products directly to consumers for many years, our profits and consumer interest can go nowhere but up. We are extremely fortunate to still have consumers that own or remember using Diamond Brand gear in the 1970s and 1980s,” he explains. (Capital at Play profiled Diamond Brand and their long history in the January 2013 issue.) However, the recently rebranded Diamond Brand Gear isn’t your grandparents’ tent company, having split from their two-location retail division, Diamond Brand Outdoors (see below). The company also recently teamed up with the Biltmore to create a line of more elegant and colorful bags that say “weekend spa getaway” more than “let’s go camping.” And in May, they launched their Pop-Up Micro Factory at 69 Broadway in downtown Asheville as a way to connect with consumers and show how their handcrafted items are made, as well as offer exclusive products only available at this microfactory. Delaloye hopes that “in the next few months, we can offer services at our Pop-Up Micro Factory that are educational in nature, teaching people of all ages how to maintain, repair, and even sew their own gear.” And for those new to camping, haven’t been in awhile, or just want to make sure all their gear is up to snuff, he recommends kicking off camping season with a “campout in their backyards. I would also encourage them to do this as often as they can throughout the year. The backyard is a great place for families and individuals to learn some basic camping skills and gain some confidence before they go a little farther from home.” Gear-wise, Delaloye points to their Belay Pack for its “simple design, which draws on many features offered in our best-selling Belay Pack from 1977. Relatively lightweight, it’s easy to organize, extremely durable, and adjustable. I can easily attach it to the back of my motorcycle for a simple day hike.” For those going camping, they encourage families to attach their guylines to bungee cords and attach the bungee cords to their tents. “This allows the guylines to do their jobs, but eliminates some of the stress that could eventually cause damage to the tent where guylines attach,” he explains.

DIAMOND BR AND AT Asheville Outdoor Show, photo by Stephan Pruitt

Diamond Brand Outdoors Speaking of that legacy, Diamond Brand Outdoors is still going strong after more than 50 years in the retail outfitter business, with locations in downtown Asheville and in South Asheville near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Chris Bubenik, the brand’s marketing manager, credits their longevity to the Asheville community. “It’s our North Star, and we look to our friends and neighbors to guide us. We are truly a part of the community and enjoy our awesome responsibility of supporting organizations making the place we live even better through their work.

DIAMOND BR AND OUTDOORS donating to Asheville City Schools Foundation, photo cour tesy Diamond Brand

August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 65


leisure & libation

Adventure Is Local isn’t just our tagline, it’s a motto that is at the heart of all we do,” he explains. They stand behind that tagline through their extensive blog efforts as well, which Bubenik describes as having “nearly every hike in WNC with directions and reasons why you’ll love those spots.” The blog also showcases content created by each team member about their personal favorite spots and why, effectively serving as a comprehensive online database of reviews and information that the public can easily access. Some of the most recent excursions they’ve recommended for people looking to hike in Western North Carolina have included Boone Fork Trail near Blowing Rock, Laurel River Trail at Hot Springs, Four Falls Trail in DuPont State Forest (which features amazing waterfall views), Craggy Gardens near Asheville (just off the Blue Ridge Parkway), and Daniel Ridge Loop Trail in Pisgah Forest. Looking for a stargazing spot or a moonlit hike? Head to Max Patch, part of the famous Appalachian Trail. As for what’s trending in gear, Bubenik shares, “Solar power, sustainably sourced fabric, and neat style are all things our customers are looking for right now, so we’ve brought in lots of new items from Goal Zero, Freefly, Howler Brothers, and Dubarry of Ireland. Of course, we always like to feature local gear makers like ENO, Astral, and SylvanSport, too.” But they’re CAPAug18

7/10/18

2:23 PM

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not just about the new-and-now. “Our buyers strike a balance between timeless gear and clothing that are always needed with up and coming pieces from emerging brands or companies disrupting the outdoor industry,” he explains.

Outdoor 76 In 2010 Outdoor 76 opened in Franklin, North Carolina, in part because co-owners Rob Gasbarro and Cory McCall live and play here, but even more importantly because “our industry has heavily protected distribution channels. The remaining open markets are getting eaten up,” explains Rob. “Franklin had a void in representation for specialty outdoor, and we believe there was a need that we could meet.” Opening on the heels of a recession isn’t easy for any type of business, but he credits the resilience of his fellow entrepreneurs for “choosing to invest in our town and putting Franklin on a great trajectory.” In fact, that trajectory led to Outdoor 76 opening a second store in Cherokee earlier this year, with plans to open a third store in Clayton, Georgia, before the year ends. Part of Outdoor 76’s success stems from their location along the Appalachian Trail, the famous 2,200-mile trail that connects Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Sixty of those miles run through Macon County, and

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Franklin has been designated an official Appalachian Trail Community along this section, meaning that the town is hiker-friendly, and a much-needed resupply stop before hikers continue on toward the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

that’s designed for hiking. Indeed, another reason their business has thrived, he notes, is Outdoor 76’s specialty footwear. “We’re all about footwear. It’s slightly outside the common outdoor retail mold, but people need their feet taken care of year-round. People get into outdoor recreation, hiking specifically, to have fun. There is no single piece of gear that kills a buzz more than bad footwear. If your feet aren’t happy, nothing else matters.” The company has diversified in other ways as well, offering canoe, kayak, and bike rentals, and guided fly fishing, as well as operating a small taproom on-site that features 18 craft beers on tap and occasional live music and events. But at the end of the day, Gasbarro credits the Outdoor 76 team for providing an overall quality experience for their patrons. “Love what you do. Customers see that and the intangible component that brings to the experience your customers have can’t be replaced with a better product selection or competitive pricing. When you love what you do, it’ll give you an edge.”

“We are truly a part of the community and enjoy our awesome responsibility of supporting organizations making the place we live even better through their work. Adventure Is Local isn’t just our tagline, it’s a motto that is at the heart of all we do.” “Our spring is heavily focused on northbound Appalachian Trail thru-hikers,” Rob says. Chief among his advice to aspiring or veteran hikers is to have proper-fitting, durable, and reliable footwear

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THE OLD

NORTH

STATE [

news briefs

Befriending the Enemy durham

Researchers at Duke University are trying to see if the immune system’s strong defense against the polio virus can be turned against brain tumors. In a small study, 61 patients whose tumors recurred were treated with a polio virus that had been genetically modified so it would not attack the nervous system. The virus was dripped directly on the tumor through a long tube in a one-time application. After one year, survival rates were the same as in another group of patients receiving other treatments at Duke. But after two years, the survival rate rose to 21%, compared to 14% in the control group; and after three years, the survival rates were 21% and 4%, respectively. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine

]

and discussed at a recent conference in Norway. Another study involving children is underway, a second study on adults that combines poliovirus treatments with chemotherapy has begun, and other studies are envisioned for treating other forms of cancer. A company has been formed to license any patents resulting from the research.

Lawyering-Up at a Young Age chapel hill

The UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law received a $1.53 million gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. Funds will be used to train aspiring lawyers to help entrepreneurs, because a lack of legal knowledge, often due to the

inability to fund legal counsel, has been identified as a major cause of startup failure. Three clinics will be set up, each training 8-10 students per semester and serving entrepreneurs in the process. One will be for for-profit ventures and train students how to explain to clientele the options for structuring their business entity, form those entities, and draft organizational documents. A second will be for intellectual property, teaching how to capture and license innovations. The third, Carolina Law’s Community Development Law Clinic, is already operational, and it trains students to help nonprofits obtain tax-exempt status. In addition, the North Carolina General Assembly has appropriated $465,000 in recurring funds for the initiative.

Hot Fusion charlotte

Charlotte -based Hot Shots has purchased Ohio fiery foods company CaJohns. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, CaJohns’ owner, John Hard, said the sum had seven figures. Hard opened his business in 1999, and it grew to have wholesalers in all 50 states, with 25% of its business

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being exports. The company enjoyed $2 million in annual sales, it had won over 500 national and international awards, and Hard is a member of the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame. Hot Shots is a developer of over 2,000 seasonings and spices, which it distributes worldwide. Hard said the deal made sense since Hot Shots, which has been buying CaJohn products since 1999, was one of his company’s largest customers. The deal will also preserve the CaJohns brand. The CaJohns production facility has now been closed with operations moving to Charlotte. Hard helped all seven employees find work in other area food businesses; his wife’s business, a store down the road that sells his sauces, will remain open. Hard will join Hot Shots as a brand ambassador and consultant.

Wilmington; Lidl would be the anchor tenant of a retail complex in each. Leon proceeded with site development, and Lidl “abruptly” terminated the deal and has refused to pay its share for sunk costs, which Leon estimates at $430,000 of the total $1 million in damages it is seeking. Court documents show Leon alleging Lidl had, between 2015 and 2017, entered purchase agreements for 400 sites across the country, when it had never planned to build more than 150 stores by the end of 2018. By backing out, Leon claims that Lidl “left a litany of broken promises, foreclosures, defaulted contracts, unpaid contractors, and financial hardships for local property owners, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and developers.”

Noncommidl

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Leon Capital Group of Dallas is suing Lidl for backing out of plans for three stores in North Carolina. Leon complains the low-price German grocery chain had instructed the investors to acquire tracts for stores. Leon invested, accordingly, in parcels in Charlotte, Cary, and

Ritwik Pavan invented an app, VADE, that uses a network of sensors to tell drivers where open parking spaces are in realtime. He then realized there would be more money in selling the app to municipal governments for collecting data on parking and traffic patterns.

the old north state

Governments have traditionally contracted for case studies to gather that kind of information. Pavan and his peers hope to raise $240,000 this summer to set up a pilot system in one city, which would go live by the end of the year. Already, several North Carolina cities have expressed an interest in using VADE. Pavan went into business at age 16. As founder and CEO of Linker Logic Technologies, he works with a team of friends from high school to design apps for businesses and provide other web services like search engine optimization and social media management. The price for a typical Linker Logic app runs around $25,000-$100,000. Pavan was no novice when he went into business. He had developed two apps before, one of which was downloaded 500,000 times.

Containers Merge with No Shifting of Contents wake forest

Virgo Investment Group, a private equity firm in San Francisco, is funding the merger of Zippy Shell and 1-800-PACK-R AT. Headquartered in Wake Forest, 1-800-PACK-RAT began in 2001 with a design for a steel,

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weatherproof, portable storage container. It was nicknamed a “pack rat” because it “could store everything.” The next item of business was to work with experienced heavy equipment manufacturers to design a system to lift and transport the containers without the contents shifting or swaying. The business started with three North Carolina locations, and then, under new management, expanded to operate out of 71 locations nationwide. Zippy Shell, launched in Australia, provides the same type of services. Under the merger, both companies will continue to operate as their own brands. Mark Kuhns, CEO of Zippy Shell, will become the CEO of the merged company at the end of the year, when 1-800-PACK-RAT CEO Bob Poirier will become advisor and chief strategy officer. All other executive officers will retain their roles and responsibilities with the respective brands.

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Following a ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Ecoplexus will be allowed to construct a 20-megawatt solar farm where the Goose Creek Golf Course has sat fallow since a 2012 foreclosure. Ecoplexus had applied to the Currituck Board of County Commissioners for a permit in 2016, but their petition was denied. Ecoplexus appealed the decision to the Currituck County Superior Court, lost, and appealed again. Meanwhile, in 2017, due to citizen complaints about two permits granted, the board imposed an indefinite ban on solar farms in the county. Now, with the matter settled, the commissioners granted a permit with a list of conditions that include substantial setbacks and buffering, height caps on fixtures, and limits on hours of construction. Weeds are not allowed to grow higher than two feet, and they are not to be controlled with potentially-dangerous chemicals. Residents opposed the


cary

Molly Carlson is an 18-year-old professional beekeeper. She had not intended to go into business, but her honey kept winning awards, like a blue ribbon at the state fair. Now, running Three Little Birds Apiary, she tends twelve hives throughout the Triangle area, each with about 30,000 bees. Carlson’s interest started with a sponsorship from the Orange County Beekeepers Association (OCBA). They gave her two hives and a mentor and paid her way through bee school. The OCBA trains beekeepers of all levels and keeps members informed about timely concerns, like the latest threats to colony health. Carlson is able to visit her hives and run a business because of the flexibility in her schedule afforded by the North Carolina Virtual Academy, an online charter school. Upon graduation, she will intern with the USDA in Louisiana. Then, she’ll attend Wake Tech Community College so she can return to work with her bees. Having fallen in love with the art, she plans to make it her life’s work for the foreseeable future.

Relocated for Security Reasons fuquay-varina

Swiss drone company senseFly has moved its North American headquarters from Washington, D.C. to FuquayVarina. The move was motivated by increasingly strict security protocols regulating drones in the nation’s capital. senseFly has been considering relocation for almost two years. They decided on the Triangle Area primarily because of its proximity to three

The Gentrification of Groceries raleigh-durham

Grocery retailer Kroger has closed all 14 of its stores in the Raleigh-Durham area, laying 1,500 mostly-part-time workers off. Executives explained they had conducted a thorough evaluation of the market and concluded the stores were not going to grow to meet targets. As it turns out, eight of the stores have been sold to Harris Teeter, a company that Kroger acquired in 2014 for $2.5 billion. While the Kroger stores had been acquiring market share, it was becoming increasingly difficult to meet rising payroll costs without raising prices; and Kroger’s analysts did not believe increasing prices would keep the store competitive. Harris Teeter, however, is branded as a more expensive store, which can offer exclusive experiences and products and compete for the business of a different community of shoppers. Industry analysts have observed a hollow middle forming as mid-priced grocery chains like Kroger are commanding less of the market.

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universities. While receiving no economic development incentives, senseFly has already joined North Carolina State University’s NextGen Air Transportation Consortium, and it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the college for use of its facilities and research farm (for flight testing) and hiring interns. senseFly, self-described as a small but proven company, grew revenues 44% last year. The company is viewed as healthy because revenues were driven by sales more than venture capital. senseFly sells eBees, a family of fixed-wing drones, and albris, a quadricopter. The models are used for professional mapping and surveying.

® WE’RE LOCAL WE’RE GLOBAL Home is the Nicest Word There is

“80-acre mirror” out of concerns for property values, stormwater management, and farmland preservation.

August 2018 | capitalatplay.com

71


Driving ON

Sunshine written by jennifer fitzger ald

72

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|

photos by anthony harden


Brightfield Transportation Solutions leads the way for electric vehicles with solar driven technology.

STAN CROSS waiting for his Electric Vehicle to charge at a Brightf ield Transpor tation Solutions Charging Station. August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 73


A

ASHEVILLE-BASED BRIGHTFIELD TR ANSPORTATION Solutions (BTS) started on a hike—actually, multiple hikes— taken by co-founders Stan Cross and Matthew Johnson. Cross, originally from Connecticut, had moved to Asheville in 2000 and was working at Warren Wilson College directing the environmental leadership center and running sustainability programs. Prior to moving to Asheville, he was a vegetable farmer and wilderness therapist in Northern New Mexico. Johnson had moved to Asheville in 1999 with his young family. He owned a bicycle shop in Cincinnati that he started when he was 24 and decided to open a second store in Asheville. The store, BioWheels, was successful right out of the gate. Johnson learned how to run a company at age 23, coming right out of college and opening his business, raising his own funds, selling stock, and doing business plans. Cross and Johnson became friends when they first moved to Western North Carolina through their young daughters, who were friends. “The bike shop was a great incubator to learn a lot about business,” says Johnson. “In 2010, after Stan and I met, we were both getting a little antsy and wanted to do something that was more meaningful with our energies. Both being outdoororiented, we were using some of our hikes to brainstorm.” “Matt was deep in running a successful bike shop and I was deep in running sustainability programs for Warren Wilson College, which is regarded as one of the top sustainability colleges in the country,” says Cross. “Those hikes were both 74

| August 2018

of us speaking to the excitement about what we were doing. Matt, every day, getting people out of their cars, getting people on bikes, helping people be active and be in the outdoors. And me, helping people try and think about ways to solve climate change through energy and agriculture and waste management. I think, for me on those hikes, it was realizing that I wanted to do something where I was part of the creation from the ground up. I was ready to move away from working in a very creative environment to doing something that was more fully entrepreneurial.” Just before they started hatching the Brightfield plan, Johnson completed a green renovation on the BioWheels building located at 81 Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville. The renovation included installing a solar radiant floor heating system for the building, including solar thermal panels on the roof that fed hot water loops in the store’s slab floor; a solar PV awning that fed solar electricity into the building; counters and cabinets made from plant materials; low-water fixtures; and a renovated exterior envelope of the building for efficiency. All the finishings were soy-based. It was during this renovation that he learned about the technologies involved with deploying renewables into the building. Through that process and being a nuts-and-bolts kind of builder person, he was inspired by what he was learning about how he could integrate systems into buildings and how he could see transportation as a part of that overall investment of what it takes to be here—on this planet.


“There’s excess energy in homes—there’s energy all over the place, and Stan and I knew this because he had overseen renewable energy projects at Warren Wilson,” says Johnson. “I got into some pretty intense stuff on our commercial building and I think we both felt comfortable enough to say, ‘We’ve got this technology side down—we can connect the dots.’ If we want to see the nation driving on sunshine—if we want to replace gasoline—it’s really a matter of taking the components that are pre-existing and rearranging them, and that’s really what Brightfield has done—taken all of the technologies that are out there and business models that are available to us and aggregate it into a solutions provider company—which is what we have evolved into essentially.”

Connecting the Dots

MAT THEW JOHNSON

Cross completed a project at Warren Wilson where a dozen pickup trucks that were old and polluting were replaced with golf carts. A solar canopy was built to park the golf carts under and charge them from power that was generated from solar panels. “So, for me, that project, even though it was golf carts before modernday EVs (electric vehicles) were in the market, showed that theory that you could replace gasoline vehicles with EVs that power off of the sun,” says Cross. “For me, that was the connection. Matt’s the nuts-andbolts guy and I’m the business development, communicator role in the company. From that perspective, I saw the opportunity—something that we could sell in the market and something that would have high desirability by consumers, particularly those who I was interacting with every day who were sustainability-minded and concerned about climate change, and air and water pollution, and energy security, and national security interests.” “From my end, to build things and put them together is pretty easy to do,” says Johnson. “When I say that, I mean that all the resources are there for us to solve the technical problems. The hardest part was to get the funding—to get some capital behind the idea. My end of it, I don’t want to undersell it, there’s a lot of complexity in our products and how things come together.” Cross and Johnson officially started Brightfield Transportation Solutions in 2010 when they won a $380,000 grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund, which is funded by the North Carolina Commerce Department for businesses that bring green technology to market. They used that capital to bring the work they had been doing on paper—designing and engineering and thinking about their solar projects—to market. They were able to use those funds to install Brightfields in Asheville: at UNC-Asheville, downtown on South Charlotte Street at the Public Works building, at Land of Sky Regional Council on New Leicester Highway, and where Matt had his BioWheels shop (which later closed, in February 2013). In fact, those were the first four public solar integrated EV charging stations deployed in the United States. Cross and Johnson were ahead of the market and ready to make a difference.

What is a Brightfield?

STAN CROSS

Brightfield Transportation Solutions delivers B2B Solar Driven® charging solutions for the expanding EV marketplace. At present BTS is the only electric vehicle charging station developer with a patented grid-connected system for integrating generation, storage, and delivery August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 75


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of solar fuel to America’s electric vehicles, the goal being stateof-the-art charging solutions that optimize grid performance and lower the total cost of ownership. Brightfield’s vision, according to the founders, is to leapfrog fossil fuel and literally “drive on sunshine.” The company name came from Cross and Johnson looking for a word that was inspiring and that would give them a visual when you closed your eyes and said the word. They believe “Brightfield” brings to mind a sunny bright future that is open and isn’t industrial and filled with smokestacks. (Worth noting: The United States Department of Energy originally defined a “Brightfield” site as an abandoned and/ or contaminated property that has been cleaned up and redeveloped through the incorporation of solar energy.) And they realized that whether or not they succeeded at building personal wealth, this was a path that was true and needed. As outlined above, they brought the Brightfield product to market with grant funds from the Green Business Fund. They received additional grant support from Advanced Energy, the NC Clean Fuel Alternative Transportation (CFAT) Fund, and Nissan North America that carried BTS through 2015. “We came to market early with a concept ahead of its time,” explains Cross, describing Brightfield’s initial business arc. “[But] we hit many walls along the way that forced us to pivot. From 2011 to 2012 we tapped into grant funds to launch our business because the market was not ready to purchase our products; there were simply not enough EVs on the road to justify the expense of charging stations, let alone the added cost of solar-integrated Brightfields. In those early days, all the EV charging stations deployed were grant-supported. As the grant funds dried up, we leveraged our early-to-market position to access industry support from Nissan, BMW, and others to keep the business alive. From 2013-2015 we shifted our focus to deploying fast chargers across North Carolina and East Tennessee because that was what the auto industry was willing to pay us to do.” (A direct current fast charger is a charger that ranges in power output from 50kW to 350kW and currently has the ability to charge an EV in under 30 minutes, soon to be under 15 minutes. This is the technology that enables intracity travel as larger battery/longer range EVs come to market, such as the Tesla line and Chevy Bolt.) In 2015 BTS made the pivot as a company when they realized that the market had matured enough that people were ready to start buying EV charging stations. No longer was it going to be a grant-supported industry: It was an actual market that they could build a strong business case around. “As we got to late 2015, the market began to mature,” continues Cross. “EV sales hit 40% year-over-year growth, and we recognized an emerging appetite for our solar-integrated Brightfield Charging Stations among sustainably-minded businesses, universities, and municipalities.” Still, he admits, they had originally expected the market to mature much faster than it ultimately did. “The drop


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in oil prices in 2015, [along with] shifting federal pressure on industry for climate change solutions and cleaner air, created EV market uncertainty that slowed growth. We [also] underestimated the amount of market and product education we have had to provide prospects and the impact that has on prolonging the sales cycle. And we waited too long to get beyond the North Carolina market and build capacity to sell into markets where EV adoption has been stronger, such as in New England and the mid-Atlantic. “We are now seeing the ramp-up fueled by the drop in battery prices and massive investment by the auto industry as the uncertainty has settled globally and the electrification of transportation appears inevitable—seven years after we installed our first Brightfield.”

Selling a Solution When Brightfield shifted to their current business model, they stepped back and thought deeply about the value proposition of a Brightfield charging station. Investors came onboard in 2016 and began to infuse the capital in the company that they needed to grow. Brightfield’s primary investors are VentureSouth, Pinnacle Fund, and eight private individuals. Cross is board president and CEO. He and Johnson hold majority ownership collectively—approximately 70%. Miller Williams’ career was as a telecommunications and energy industry executive. He is an investor and chairman of the Brightfield Board of Directors. “I believe that electric vehicles will capture 50% of the vehicle market within 30 years,” he says. “This growth in sales is highly dependent on the existence of a national charging infrastructure. Brightfield shares this vision. I invest in capable people who share my vision of the future.

Stan Cross has assembled a capable management team that can capture the opportunity before us.” Paul Clark, a member of the BTS Board of Directors and a general adviser and supporter, explains that board members are responsible for helping to set the strategic direction of the business. “I’m particularly focused on investor relations and financing sources, cash flow management, and strategic issues like partnerships with larger companies. As the representative of Brightfield’s early investors (Asheville Angels, part of

In 2015 BTS made the pivot as a company when they realized that the market had matured enough that people were ready to start buying EV charging stations. VentureSouth), I help connect Brightfield to potential sources of capital to grow faster, to people that help the company with sales or operational development, and to other strategic advisors.” “I believe that the U.S. and world economy have already hit a tipping point on electric vehicles and there will be dramatic growth in this sector,” adds Michael Shore, an investor and advisor. “Brightfield has strongly positioned itself to take advantage of this trend as one of the premier developers of EV infrastructure projects. The market opportunity, combined with unique partnerships and a capable and tested management August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 77


(L-R) Cross, Marketing and Brand Director Eric Krause, John Minor VP of Sales and Marketing, and Johnson.

team, are the ingredients to create a fast-growth highly profitable company.” “We managed to show up in 2016 with essentially no debt,” says Johnson. “All of our R&D was paid for and we had a product line ready to go and a balance sheet of our existing assets on the ground—charging systems. We cobbled together five years’ worth of grant support to the tune of a million and a half dollars over that period of time, and all of it is invested physically somewhere. None of the money evaporated into consultants. “When we decided to make the pivot, we didn’t want to be an owner/operator/installer. We wanted to sell the solution and get the real muscle of this country to learn how to install the stuff fast and efficiently. That knowledge of owning and operating enables us to really think deeply about and offer the best solutions for any customer, which of course has opened up why we can customize a solution probably better than anyone out there.” Cross points to when industry support for fast charger deployment began waning as having a direct impact on the 78

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BTS strategy. “We put together a business plan based on selling our product to the retail, workplace, municipal, university, and destination channels, and began raising investor capital. It was a long and challenging process. It took us nine months of pitching investor groups across the Carolinas and Georgia before we closed our first $250K seed round investment. We used those funds to hire our team and go to market. Over the following two years we raised another $400K as we worked to market and sell our products, build strategic partnerships, and expand into new markets. “By the middle of 2017, we had grown our pipeline to over 1,000 targeted prospects; we had pushed into the hot Massachusetts and Maryland markets and had formed strong technology, sales, and vendor partnerships to enable national expansion, while we confronted our early-to-market reality once again. Many of the channels we were focused on lacked either knowledge about the EV market and hence did not understand our value proposition, or they lacked motivation to buy as EV charging


infrastructure was not seen as a priority. These issues created an overly long sales cycle that we had to address. “As we came into 2018, we pivoted our strategy again to focus on the three areas where our value proposition, market expertise, and plug-and-play full-featured EV charging solution is strongest and where immediate and scalable growth opportunity exists: (1) Utilities—Brightfield Charging Stations are grid assets that combine solar power production, battery storage, and energy management to create a ‘Peak-Proof’ EV charging solution that mitigates utility’s peak demand, demand charge, and transformer load concerns, while bolstering the image of the utility among its customers as an innovative, forward-leaning company. (2) Investor Owned Brightfields—In markets like the ZEV (zero emission vehicle) states where EV sales growth is strong and incentives in place; where we can leverage federal and state solar tax credits and incentives; and where the deregulated utility market allows us to sell kWh to drivers who will pay a premium for electricity at EV charging

stations that offer fast, convenient, and renewable-powered charging: We can provide strong cash-flows and long-term returns for investors. (3) Sales Partners—To accelerate the sales cycle, we have built a network of sales partners whose relationships with retailers, hoteliers, developers, corporate workplaces, etc. can be leveraged to penetrate new markets and sell Brightfields more efficiently and effectively than we can do alone.”

EVs on the Move When BTS was founded, there was one electric vehicle in all of Western North Carolina. Fast forward to today where market predictions are anywhere from 30% to 50% of all new car sales being electric in the next 10 years. Just imagine if every other car you were seeing on the road was electric. “On average, an EV saves a driver $1,300 a year in fuel and maintenance costs,” says Cross, who explains that this is based August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 79


on 12,000 miles at $2.50/gallon gas. As gas prices go up, so does savings. “Here is an interesting thing to note: As a [Nissan] Leaf driver, I save $1,300 a year, but my savings account has not gone up. Why? Because I spend those savings, much in the local economy, on meals out, entertainment, and other purchases. When you buy a gallon of gas, after you account for state taxes, $0.97 of every dollar leaves North Carolina for corporate headquarters and foreign nations. North Carolina does not produce any hydrocarbons, meaning we import all the oil, coal, natural gas, and propane we burn. So, when you

BTS currently has sales in Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee. They have over 50 clients they are working with. There are other companies installing solar canopies and EV charging stations, but not necessarily in the pre-engineered, systematized, and scalable manner that BTS is doing. “As a company based in Asheville looking to expand nationally in a fast-growing emerging industry of EVs, we have to be very focused and targeted,” says Cross. “In our expansion efforts we focus on the markets where EVs are selling really

switch to local sunshine, you keep dollars in North Carolina and retain community wealth.” (As EV sales rise, states are dealing individually with a loss in tax revenue. For example, three cents per gallon of gas going to the state would add up to a substantial drop in revenue over the course of 20 years. In North Carolina EV drivers pay $150/ year in additional property tax that goes to roads. That is the amount the legislature determined to be fair.) Notes Cross, “At the end of 2017, United States EV sales topped 700K, with North Carolina topping 7K and Western North Carolina at around 1K. Buncombe County has the most EVs per capita in North Carolina. North Carolina is now the third fastest growing EV state and Raleigh/Durham the third fastest growing EV market in the country. Last year we saw 36% year over year growth in national EV sales every month since July 2016, breaking previous sales records.”

well—New England, mid-Atlantic states, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado. We can track the industry—see where things are selling.” Polk/IHS Markit tracks sales by zip code and provides access to data for a fee. The National Renewable Energy Labs and D.O.E. Clean Cities access this data to support planning efforts at the state level. Many websites such as Inside EVs and EV Volumes provide national month-by-month sales. Cross adds that BTS can also track the progress being made by states known as zero emission states who are committed to putting millions of EVs on their roads: “Where we have that broad overarching commitment from the political side and we have a strong market uptake from the consumer side, then those are the markets that we target with our expansion.” Other factors that are considered are where gas is expensive, where there are increased tax incentives at the state level for buying an EV, where utility rates are favorable for charging your EV, and where there are overarching clean air standards that the adoption of EVs helps to meet. BTS can track all of these factors to determine where they need to be selling their solutions. BTS provides customized EV infrastructure solutions to clients in the retail, destination, municipality, university, workplace, and

Target Market Brightfield is aggressively pursuing customers nationally. They do this with a targeted approach and focus on companies that have a deep commitment to sustainability and have sustainability officers or directors who they can reach out to. 80

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utility markets. The very visible charging stations are designed to enhance clients’ brands, increase customer and employee loyalty, manage energy resources, and promote future-oriented sustainability solutions—all while keeping clients’ business goals and realities at the forefront. For example, says Cross, “We went to retailers like Ingles and Earth Fare. They totally understood if they put these charging stations in their parking lot, EV drivers will come, plug in, and shop in their stores. They saw a direct value to them. When we sold stations to Appalachian State University and Western Carolina University, they saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and get prospective students in the door. When we started to pivot

All of our leadership team has an equity stake in the company and are committed to our solar-driven vision. and sell to workplaces like AvL Technologies (profiled in the March 2018 issue of this magazine), they understood that if they put charging assets at their place of work their employees would benefit from that amenity and there was a value. As we shifted our thinking around the value of our product, it went from what Matt was articulating to something that we were doing for the good of all.” Western Carolina University (WCU) heard about BTS from the Land of Sky Regional Council Clean Vehicles Coalition. The university’s Brightfield Charging Station not only offers charging for EVs, but also is tied into the grid and therefore offsets energy usage from an adjacent building. “This project idea was submitted to the WCU Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) by a former WCU student and alum in 2016,” says Lauren Bishop, chief sustainability officer at WCU. “The SEI Committee voting members approved funding for the project and installation was completed in 2017. The Brightfield Station is important to faculty and students because it supports the usage of electric vehicles and workplace charging. “At the time this project was approved,” she adds, “there were not a lot of EV charging stations in the region. The SEI Committee wanted to assist with increasing accessibility for EV drivers to reduce range anxiety in our rural area and increase the amount of EV driving visitors to campus. The station is located in a public parking lot so any faculty, staff, student, or visitor to campus can access the station. 82

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Parking Services charges $1 per 30 minutes to park in the lot. EV drivers can plug-in at no additional cost. “Currently, there are only a handful of students, faculty, and staff that drive EV’s. We have received several inquiries this past year about installing more stations on campus from students, faculty, and staff that are interested in purchasing an EV in the coming year. We expect this number to grow in the near future. Many of our daily commuters live 30+ minutes from campus. Having adequate infrastructure in place to charge during the day will help reduce range anxiety.”

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Team Work As founders of the company, Cross and Johnson don’t expect to have “clean” job descriptions. Cross serves as the CEO and works with the BTS sales team to make calls on potential clients. Johnson serves as the COO and is responsible for everything on the project develop and production side. “Like every start-up on a journey, we— especially Matt and I—our job description is everything and then some as founders,” says Cross. “We’ve been successful at pulling together a team that can begin to take the company to the next level, but we remain very active in all elements of what’s going on in the business and will be for the foreseeable future. “We are fortunate to have assembled a talented and dedicated team of technology, energy, and sustainability entrepreneurs with a deep understanding and passion for the electrification of transportation and its broad impacts. All of our leadership team has an equity stake in the company and are committed to our solar-driven vision. Our team is what makes BTS the well-respected market-leading company that we are. Without their capabilities and grit, we wouldn’t be a start-up on the verge of high-growth.” The BTS team includes VP of Sales and Marketing John Minor, VP Strategic Partnerships and Informatics Ged Moody, and Marketing and Brand Director Eric Krause. “I enjoy working for a company that is on the cutting edge of where transportation is going,” says Minor. “A company that is nimble, smart, and humble enough to see

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its strengths and place ourselves in a position where we add the most value given these strengths. This takes good communication and egos that can bend, which we have.” The team agrees that they are in a good place at BTS. Moody shares that BTS provides him the chance to apply his technology and strategy experiences while working with a values-driven company that is doing positive work in the region and the world. Krause was around as the Brightfield vision formed and was co-owner with Johnson of BioWheels. “There were many wilderness excursions and campfire chats about how we could effect change in the world of transportation,” he says. “Could we have a part in making it more sustainable? Matt and I started with bicycles, and our entrepreneurial spirits led us to evolve. When Matt and Stan got together and built the foundation for Brightfield, there was hardly a doubt that I would be there when the time was right to bring the vision forward. And it seems the world is finally ready for a new transportation paradigm.”

Grid Connected

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Brightfield charging stations are all grid connected—generating solar and then putting it where the highest value is. Sometimes that’s selling it to the grid, sometimes it is pushing it into a building, sometimes storing it in a battery located on site. It could be a cloudy day and as a driver of an EV, you need reliability, which is exactly why the Brightfield charging stations are grid connected. “We monitor all the production from the solar through the inverters, and we monitor all of the output from the chargers through the chargers, and we can show a client are they 100% solar driven, are they 50% solar driven, [or] are they 150% solar driven,” says Cross. “It depends on how much solar they are generating and how much charging they are putting out. We can generate solar power and put it into a building, or we


Key Components of an All-Electric Car

Image cour tesy www.afdc.energy.gov

can put it onto that grid for the utilities’ use, or we can put it into a car. “If you just install a charging station, then after you install it you are going to have nothing but maintenance costs. When you add a Brightfield, you now have the solar revenue and that revenue, can defray O&M costs with an eight-year payback—which isn’t super sexy in business terms, but it is very real. If you install just a charging station versus installing a Brightfield, by year eight, it will be cheaper to have installed that Brightfield. And your panels are guaranteed to produce electricity for 25 years.” Customers who install networked chargers—those with communication, data gathering, and payment processing capabilities—pay an annual network service fee. Customers who install non-networked stations—no capabilities beyond providing electric to the EV—do not. Because Brightfields are solar, they qualify for federal solar tax credits. When a client buys a Brightfield they receive a 30 percent tax credit and they are able to depreciate the entire asset in year one. So, about 50% of their upfront costs are avoided by those benefits. And those benefits aren’t there if you don’t have the solar. Brightfield products include the T1, T2, T3, T4, and T5 chargers, which have solar canopy sizes of, respectively, 2.4 kilowatts, 7.2 kW, 11.7 kW, 15.3 kW, and 18.9+ kW. The T1 and T2 are the primary sellers right now. They are right-sized for the current market, as most clients only need one to six

chargers and that’s what fits nicely on the T1 and T2. As the market grows and clients need more chargers, and as fleets begin to convert from gasoline-powered cars to EVs, then those larger Brightfields will be necessary to meet demand. According to Cross, when a Brightfield is priced, it doesn’t include installation, because that installation cost is variable— where is it placed in a parking lot? How far do you have to trench? BTS just prices the product and you can have a Brightfield starting at $20,000—and then from there it goes up. Turnkey, including installation cost, would be approximately $30,000. Since 2011, BTS has deployed over $2 million of EV charging infrastructure to over 40 clients in five states. In 2018 they expect to do over $5 million in business, expanding sales into the burgeoning utility market and pushing deeper into the hot North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Colorado markets.

A Partnership that Works Cross and Johnson believe that it is their ability to divide and conquer that has made their partnership successful, as they both bring very different skill sets and are able to perform roles in the company that fit the strength of those skill sets. “We have a shared vision, but two different ways of perceiving—two different personalities,” explains Cross. “We’re able to create tension so when we are working well, that tension helps generate creativity. If Matt and I both totally agree on August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 85


something, we probably have a blind spot somewhere. The ability for us to manage healthy disagreement around what we are trying to accomplish is something that works really well. For us to have been able to sustain and grow the company and maintain our partnership, it’s been that

“The Brightfield charging station solutions that we have coming out now will be the benchmark of public space charging,” predicts Johnson. shared vision. We’ve had it from the beginning and we have never wavered on it. We’re both in it to make money as a way of demonstrating the viability of transitioning America from oil dependence.” “There’s a lot of respect between us because I know how hard Stan works and I’ve seen the benefits of his work,” says Johnson. “I think the other part is that we both sense

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we are at the right place at the right time. Everything has aligned in such a way that how can we not work together to do this?”

The Future’s So Bright The BTS partners have stayed the course since those brainstorming hikes and the beginning of their business in 2009. There was no school for them to attend to learn how to create solar integrated infrastructure. Together they worked through how to get oxygen into BTS because they knew that in America today, the only way that a vision is going to be viewed as valuable is if it can show its ability to make money. Their goal is to get as many Brightfields in the landscape as possible. They see this not only as a means to growing their business, but also as a means of executing their vision. “The Brightfield charging station solutions that we have coming out now will be the benchmark of public space charging,” predicts Johnson. “We’ve, as a company, made some protections around the ways that we put these things together. We didn’t do it in a preventative way; we did it for the investors and for the good of the company. However, we believe there will be licensing of some of our stuff out.

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The job globally is too big for one company, and I believe that not only our solar driven concept and business model could be adopted globally, if not nationally, but the stations themselves, I really believe, are just head and shoulders above anything else out there in the marketplace.” BTS was granted a utility patent that states that any structural member (such as the base of the solar canopy) that has a charger mounted to it and the ability to carry a load above it (such as a solar canopy) is a Brightfield. They have additional patents pending around the integration of battery storage and energy management onto the Brightfield solar canopy system and around their innovative geo-sleeve footer system that enables fast and cost-effective installation. To those starting a business today, Johnson suggests storing away as many nuts as you can and be willing to do whatever it takes to get you through before your vision succeeds: “If your heart is not in it, if it’s just a way to make money, it’s an empty, soulless pursuit. Don’t try to synthesize that if it is not there.” Cross is quick to add that “doing what it takes” means devoting 100% of one’s professional energy and focus to grow the vision and model into a viable and sustainable business. It’s exciting for the BTS team to show up today in an emerging industry and sit down with a client. Because of the BTS history of owning, operating, installing, fabricating, designing, and

engineering Brightfields, they know all the challenges the client is going to face and can bring all the lessons they have learned from their own mistakes and successes, such as the ones Cross outlined above. They can help that client not only put a charging station on the ground, but do it in a way that’s going to fulfill any overarching strategies they have for their property or for their business, and be able to connect it directly to that in a meaningful way.

*** Ultimately, says Cross, “We have a tremendous amount to be proud of over the past years and we’re really excited to be at the cusp of the high growth that we’ve been working towards for a long time.” “A success for us is simply now that people now get it and the cars are selling,” says Johnson. “I feel successful already because we are seeing the momentum in the market we forecasted years and years ago with our projections. In connecting those dots, it was information gathering, tons of research. If you drive on sunshine, you save money—you save the planet.”

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Barefoot. (standing) Paul Cooper & John Gardner (CG) 5. Helen & Walt Peery, with Laurie & Doug Ombres (JC)

6. Francisco Troconis & Gary Culbertson (JC) 7. Michelle Jones & Violectric light up the night (JC) 8. Dilshad & Jason Posnock (JC)


Brevard Music Center Prelude 2018 “Masquerade� Gala Brevard Music Center | Brevard, NC | June 16, 2018 Photos by Chuck Gilmore (CG) & Jack Christfield (JC) 9

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9. Dennis & Preston Davitt, with Kate & John Anderson (JC) 10. Prelude Co-Chair Susan Harrington Butts & Tim Butts (JC) 11. Cally & Raymond Vennare (JC)

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12. Lucy & Bob Clark (JC) 13. Dorothy Knowles, Palma Cohen, & Kathy Perrett (JC) 14. Asheville Aerial Arts provided entertainment (CG)

15. Joanne Morgan, Rebecca & Ryan Cecil, & Oby Morgan (JC) 16. Brevard mayor Jimmy Harris & wife Carrie (CG) August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 89


events

august

EVENTS

2661 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock, NC A bride wants her father to walk her down the aisle, but she has to find out who he is, first – with a whole lot of ABBA music.

>Tickets: Senior $47 & $52, Adult > 828-693-0731 > flatrockplayhouse.org

French Broad Riverkeeper Float Various WNC Area locations

Paddlers can enjoy 45 miles on the river, from Brevard to Asheville, while stopping at Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium. MountainTrue will provide the meals, beer, canoes, paddles, and personal flotation devices. Other activities include stand-up paddleboard yoga, stargazing, and cornhole.

>Tickets: Adult $950, Child $475 > 828-258-8737 > mountaintrue.org

august 2-3

7PM (Fri), 8PM (Sat)

argest selection of upholstery fabric in WNC

> 828-686-8742 > theleaf.org august 3

The Planets

Diana Wortham Theatre 18 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC

7:30PM

The portrayal of the thought-provoking modern theologist, in his own words, arrives in Asheville after sold-out performances in New York and Chicago.

Fabric center 2PM (Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun), 7:30PM (Wed, Thu), 8PM (Fri, Sat) selection Largest Flat Rock Playhouse of upholstery

Pack Square College St & Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC

CS Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert

your complete >Tickets: $40-$60 your august 1-complete 18 Fabric> 828-257-4530 center Mamma Mia!

3-10PM (Fri), 9AM-10PM (Sat)

Three stages of music, art installations, and other opportunities for cultural exchange spur citizen engagement for stronger communities. “We seek to ensure every neighborhood, race, ethnicity, and culture has a voice and gathering space at our event.”

(26-59) $50 & $55, Student $32, Child (0-17) $15

august 1-3

Asheville

> dwtheatre.com

august 3 - 4

Brevard Music Center, Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium 349 Andante Lane, Brevard, NC Holst’s modern classic, embraced by the avant-garde for generations now, will be even more special with multimedia visuals supplied by Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.

Fast, friendly LEAF Downtown Fast, fabric in WNC service friendly For The Love of Sewing: service

>Tickets: $20-$59 > 828-862-2105 > brevardmusic.org

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FABRIC • SEWING MACHINES

BERNINA • BABY LOCK • HORN 1378 Hendersonville Road, Asheville (next to Fresh Market) 828-277-4100 • Mon-Sat, 10a-5:30p

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august 3 -19

august 5

Bernstein’s Mass

Bloomsday

7:30PM (Fri, Sat), 2:30PM (Sun) Asheville Community Theatre 35 East Walnut St, Asheville, NC Two people who had a short-lived love affair reunite after 35 years. The moral of the story is: Time won’t wait for postponed joy.

>Tickets: $15 > 828-254-1320 > ashevilletheatre.org august 4

“Pots and Possibilities” by Nick Joerling 10AM-4PM The Village Potters River Station, 191 Lyman St #180, Asheville, NC

3PM Brevard Music Center, WhittingtonPfohl Auditorium 349 Andante Lane, Brevard, NC The theater piece for musicians, singers, and dancers was imagined by Bernstein “not as a concert, but a fully staged dramatic pageant.” Keith Lockhart, BMCO, and hundreds of artists will be onstage for the BMC’s season finale honoring the composer’s centennial.

>Tickets start at $20 > 828-862-2105 > brevardmusic.org august 6 & 13

Street Dances

In the latest Master Series Workshop, Joerling will show how to create extreme utilitarian pottery to evoke emotion.

>Tickets: $195 > 828-253-2424 > thevillagepotters.com

7-9PM Visitor Center 201 South Main St, Hendersonville, NC Everyone’s invited to come together in a 100-year-old tradition of square dancing to live bluegrass. Caller Walt Puckett will provide a crash course for beginners at 6:30. No pets, no alcohol, no coolers.

> 828-693-9708 > visithendersonvillenc.org

august 8

Regional Business Expo

1-5PM WNC Agricultural Center, Expo Building 1301 Fanning Bridge Rd, Fletcher, NC Over 100 businesses will showcase their products and services. The only thing they have in common is they’re local. The free event is hosted by the Henderson County, Brevard/Transylvania, Haywood, and Asheville chambers of commerce.

> 828-258-6107 > wncagcenter.org august 8

Mary Chapin Carpenter

7:30PM Diana Wortham Theatre 18 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC

The lady who needs no introduction is touring with her latest release, Sometimes Just the Sky. While sponsored by The Orange Peel, Carpenter will perform at the Diana Wortham Theatre.

>Tickets: $47.50 &-$62.50 > 828-398-1837 > theorangepeel.net

Gifts for your

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TEAS • SPICES • GIFTS SALTS • SUGARS The Spice & Tea Exchange® Of Asheville 46 Haywood St., #101 Asheville, NC 28801

August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 91


events

august 9

Concert for Veterans

5-10PM Bold Rock Cidery 72 School House Rd, Mills River, NC This benefit concert by The Broadcast and Up Dog will be for Blue Ridge Honor Flight, Veterans Healing Farm, and the WNC Military Museum; a portion of the proceeds will go directly to the veterans organizations.

> 828-595-9940 > boldrock.com august 9

Nashville Songwriters in the Round

6:30PM Highland Brewing Company 12 Old Charlotte Hwy, Asheville, NC The Rotary Club of Asheville is fundraising with songwriters Phillip Lammonds, Lynn Hutton, Tammi Kidd Hutton, and Will Nance. Food catered by Chupacabra Latin CafĂŠ; exclusive sponsorships include whiskey-tasting event. Proceeds benefit the Tennent Scholarship Program.

>Tickets: $100, Sponsorships: $500$5,000 > 828-768-1808 > rotarysongwriters.eventbrite.com

august 9

Craft after Dark

7-10PM Center for Craft, Creativity, & Design 67 Broadway St, Asheville, NC This annual benefit fills multiple floors with hands-on activities, live entertainment, and refreshments. The VIP reception begins at 5:30.

>Tickets: VIP $250, General $100, Young Professional $65 > 828-785-1357 > craftcreativitydesign.org 92

| August 2018

august 10 -12 Lake Lure Olympiad Races include the 10K Dam Run, Triathlon Sprint, and Race to the (Chimney) Rock. Tournaments include pickleball and golf. A Junior Olympiad runs concurrently.

> lakelureolympiad.com august 11-12

The 41st Annual Sourwood Festival

9AM-8PM (Sat), 9AM-5PM (Sun) Downtown 201 East State St, Black Mountain, NC The wood may be sour, but the honey’s as sweet as the blossoms. The bee and the honey will be celebrated by over 30,000 visitors and 200 vendors during the family-friendly tradition hosted by the Black Mountain & Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce. Sourwood Idol is Friday night.

> 828-669-2300 > sourwoodfestival.com august 11

Purna Yoga 828 Open House

12-3PM Purna Yoga 828 697 D Haywood Rd, Asheville, Nc Letitia invites everybody to enjoy a free yoga course and share a community cake to celebrate the birthdays of the founders of this alignment-based and heart-centered yoga.

> 828-230-8213 > purnayoga828.com august 11

Art in the Park

10AM-5PM Downtown Park Ave near Main St, Blowing Rock, NC


This once-a-month free summer festival features 97 curated artists selling items of beauty and function from $5 to $10,000.

Nothing you wear is more important than your smile! ask us about natural looking revive-a-smile. you’ll be glad you did.

> 877-295-7851 > blowingrock.com

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august 11

Yonder Mountain String Band

Giving you a new smile in one day!

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6:30PM Beech Mountain Resort 1007 Beech Mountain Pwy, Banner Elk, NC The newgrass/jamgrass group has been touring for 20 years, and they recently added a fifth person. The opening act is the Forlorn Strangers.

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>Tickets: Door $30, Advance $25,

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Child (0-4) FREE > 828-387-2011 > beechmountainresort.com

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august 16

End of Summer Bash

1-3PM Historic Johnson Farm 3346 Haywood Rd, Hendersonville, NC

It’s only August, but kids can enjoy free wagon rides and old-timey games with popcorn and lemonade before hitting the books again.

> 828-891-6585 > historicjohnsonfarm.org

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august 17

Downtown After 5

5-9PM Downtown North Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC

In its 30th season, the hardworking 9-t-5ers take a breather and go network in a casual free mini-festival.

STARTING AT A 2016 IIHS TOP THE 2018 camera, four additional cameras and a dozen ultrasonic sensors . The GLE continues to build SAFETY PICK+ GLE (when 350 W4itswithown equipped optional upon legacy as one of the most intelligent SUVs Mercedes-Benz has ever made and one

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events

Music will be by Memphis soul/blues outfit Southern Avenue and soul / dance rock band The Fritz.

> 828-251-9973 > ashevilledowntown.org august 17

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Scythian

8PM Grey Eagle 185 Clingman Ave, Asheville, NC Named after U krainian nomads, Scythian’s unique folk/roots music blends Celtic, Eastern European, and Appalachian sounds to create a hi-nrg, crowd-pleasing experience.

>Tickets: $15-$18 > 828-232-5800 > thegreyeagle.com

Wax Tailor (Solo & Special Guests)

Maggie Koerner • Victory Boyd • Free Planet Radio LEAF Funk Mixtape Allstars • Tall Tall Trees • Supatight Ben Phan & The Soul Symphony • I.Star • Brie Capone King Garbage • Nex Millen • Hope Griffin • Redleg Husky Liz Teague Band • Blue Ridge Pride Drag Show • Unifire Theater Nu Paradigm • Nuestro Centro: RAICES • LEAF International Bequia &

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august 17-19 Vintage Market Days

10AM-4PM WNC Agricultural Center, Expo Building 1301 Fanning Bridge Rd, Fletcher, NC This is an upscale outdoor market offering antiques, indoor and outdoor furnishings, jewelry, original art, and food.

>Tickets: Sat & Sun $5; Fri, Sat, &

Sun $10 > 917-224-4035 > vintagemarketdays.com

august 17 – september 2 The Groundling 7:30PM (Fri, Sat), 2:30PM (Sun) Asheville Community Theatre, Mainstage 35 East Walnut St, Asheville, NC Inspired by Shakespeare, a landscaper attempts a play about his marital strife. Staged in a garage, this play within a 94

| August 2018


play is a romantic farce with satire, iamb, and catharsis.

>Tickets: Adult $26, Child (0-17) $12 > 828-254-1320 > ashevilletheatre.org august 18

Band of Horses

7PM The Meadow at Highland Brewing 12 Old Charlotte Hwy, Asheville, NC Touring behind their stellar new album, Why Are You OK, the Horse-men always pull in a sell-out crowd in Asheville, and this outdoor celebration is no different, so hop on those secondary seller sites, kids. Hosted by the Orange Peel.

>Tickets: $35-$40 > 828-398-1837 > theorangepeel.net august 18

Béla Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Concert

7:30PM Brevard Music Center, WhittingtonPfohl Auditorium 349 Andante Lane, Brevard, NC At the conclusion of his Blue Ridge Banjo Camp, the winner of 15 Grammy awards will give the Brevard Music Center’s summer music festival a very special finale.

>Tickets: $22.75-$67.75 > 828-862-2105 > brevardmusic.org august 18

Anything That Floats Parade

12-8PM New Belgium 21 Craven St, Asheville, NC

In conjunction with the ongoing RiverFest, people are invited to keep

Asheville weird so long as they displace their weight in water. RiverFest is sponsored by RiverLink, New Belgium Brewing, 98.1 The River, Nantahala Outdoors Center, and Prestige Subaru.

> 828-252-8474x12 > riverlink.org

– september 9 Always a Bridesmaid august 24

2PM (Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun), 7:30PM (Wed, Thu), 8PM (Fri, Sat) Flat Rock Playhouse, Mainstage 2661 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock, NC This covers the horrors of a real-world wedding production.

>Tickets: Senior $44 &-$49, Adult (26-59) $47 & $52, Student $32, Child (0-17) $15 > 828-693-0731 > flatrockplayhouse.org

august 24 -25

Jam in the Trees

6PM (Fri)- 11:30PM (Sat) Pisgah Brewing Company 150 Eastside Dr, Black Mountain, NC The two-day Americana music festival includes bands like The Travelin’ McCourys and The Steel Wheels. A limited number of VIP passes may still be available.

>Tickets: Fri $29.78, Sat $55.53 > 828-669-0190 > jaminthetrees.com august 25

Concerts in the Park Series

7-9PM Biltmore Park Town Square, Cecil Park 2 Town Square Blvd, Asheville, NC

Each month, May-September, free live music helps families wind down for the weekend in a casual summer space. Local funk/hip-hop artist Lyric supplies August’s entertainment. August 2018 | capitalatplay.com 95


events

> 828-210-1660 > biltmorepark.com august 27

Spoken Word Open Mic

7:30PM Habitat Tavern and Commons 174 Broadway St, Asheville, NC

Poets and storytellers of any stripe are encouraged. “There is never a theme, never any competition, and no censor.” The only rule is you must get off the stage when your ten minutes are up.

> 828-808-1150 > storytellingcalendar.com

It’s Our Business To Make You Look Good. 7 Convenient Locations! Call (828) 253-3691 Or visit Online at swannanoacleaners.com

august 30

Listen to This

7:30PM Asheville Community Theatre, 35below 35 East Walnut St, Asheville, NC Each month, a local character tells poignant and/or rip-roaring stories about mundane things.

>Tickets: $15 > 828-254-1320 > ashevilletheatre.org Western North Carolina's Free Spirit of Enterprise

Follow us on Social Media!

– september 3 72nd North Carolina Apple Festival august 31

Downtown Main St, Hendersonville, NC

Browse the outside booths for apple everything, enjoy educational and entertaining apple and not-so-apple programming, and wind it all down on Monday with the Apple King in the Apple Parade.

> 828-697-4557 > ncapplefestival.org f o r t i c K e t g i v e aWay s ,

e Xc lu s i v e s , a n d m o r e ! 96

| August 2018

september 7- 8

5th Annual Harvest Conference

9:30AM-4:30PM Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC The three immersive, two-day workshops this year will be “Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycorrhizae,” “Tending Your Inner Garden: Tools for Cultivating a Healthy Gut,” and “The Sustainable Poultry Flock: Breeding, Growing, and Marketing Poultry at Any Scale.”

> Registration: Fri only $105, Fri &

Sat $165 - MMM workshop $15 surcharge. > 828-214-7833 > organicgrowersschool.org

september 8

Asheville Film Festival

9AM-9PM A-B Tech, 340 Victoria Rd, Asheville, NC Local artists have submitted their masterpieces for the screen. Now, it’s time to for watching. Individual tickets may come available, depending on pass sales.

> Passes: VIP $25, Patron $10, Student/Teacher FREE > 252-367-8789 > ashevillencfilmfestival.com

september 8

33rd Annual Sculpture Celebration

9AM-4PM T. H. Broyhill Walking Park 945 Lakewood Cir., Lenoir, NC

Over 70 regional sculptors presenting over 200 sculptures will compete for cash prizes totaling $11,000. Last year, over 4,500 artisans, buyers, and otherwise curious individuals attended the event.

> 828-754-2486 > caldwellarts.com If your organization has any local press releases for our briefs section, or events that you would like to see here, feel free to email us at events@capitalatplay.com. Please submit your event at least six weeks in advance.


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Capital at Play August 2018  
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