April 14, 2017 UBJ

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APRIL 14, 2017 | VOL. 6 ISSUE 15












VOLUME 6, ISSUE 15 Featured this issue: BMW focuses on supplier diversity.............................................................................7 Servosity’s uncrashable Damien Stevens................................................................10 Proposals coming in for County Square...................................................................15

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, and pilots prepare for a test flight in Lockheed’s T-50A trainer jets. Graham and Wilson visited the company’s Greenville facility on Monday. Read more on page 4. Photo by Andrew Moore.

WORTH REPEATING “Every community has a Falls Park; you just have to figure out what it is.” Page 6

“I was a small dog just sitting on the porch. Now I’m a medium dog and I’m ready to step off the porch. Soon I’ll be a big dog and I’ll be ready to run with the rest of them.” Page 7

“I don’t bet, and I don’t buy lottery tickets. But I will bet on myself and on my team all day long.” Page 10


On cellulite “I don’t want it to improve them. I want it to get rid of them.” Kathie Lee Gifford on NBC’s “Today” show, reacting to a claim by Greenville company Beija Flor that their jeans can reduce cellulite and improve the appearance of fine lines.



Edge4Vets eyes a ‘pipeline of talent’ between the military and GSP TREVOR ANDERSON | STAFF

tanderson@communityjournals.com A new program that seeks to connect U.S. military veterans with jobs at the nation’s airports could soon be introduced in the Upstate. Tom Murphy, an author, consultant, and director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University, introduced the program Edge4Vets Monday, April 3, to a crowd of airport officials. The officials were in town for Airports Council International North America’s Boards and Commissioners Conference held in partnership with Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Greenville. Murphy, author of “Reclaiming the Sky: 9/11 and the Untold Story of the Men and Women Who Kept America Flying,” said the program will be introduced April 20 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). He said he crafted the program through his work at the institute to help bridge the gap between veterans and industry. “I’ve had vets who were serving in the desert and then 30 days later they were back in the civilian world trying to find a job,” Murphy said. “Vets don’t know how good they are, they don’t know how badly industry needs them, and they don’t have any networking support available to them.” Murphy said the program is geared to help veterans returning from service make the transition from the “we culture” of the military to the “I culture” of the civilian world. “They’re taught to sublimate self and think about the team instead of themselves,” he said. Edge4Vets provides a platform for veterans to map out the values and

skills honed during their military service and come up with an action plan that will help them accomplish the vision they have for their long-term career and life goals. Murphy said pilots of the program have had an approximate 80 percent success rate in helping veterans find gainful employment. In some cases, veterans might need additional counseling and support before they enter the workforce. Murphy said Edge4Vets also has access to those services. He said the goal is to create an ongoing pipeline of talent between all branches of the U.S. military and airports by expanding the program nationally in partnership with ACI. Murphy said he is working on a second installment that will be introduced in Houston, Texas, possibly later this year. He is exploring the possibility of bringing the program to South Carolina in one combined effort that would include airports in the Upstate, Columbia, and Charleston. “I think South Carolina would be a great place to have it because of the population of veterans and the strength of the industry,” Murphy said. “Vets come with training in emergencies and stress. They enhance the quality of your workforce. They enhance safety. They raise the level of work and that increases the enjoyment of travelers.” About 90 airport officials attended the ACI-NA conference. It was the first time the event was held in the Upstate.





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‘We Are Ready Now’ Lockheed Martin submits bid for new Air Force trainer jet

Photo by Lockheed Martin


amoore@communityjournals.com After months of development and testing, Lockheed Martin has submitted its aircraft design for the United States Air Force’s Advanced Pilot Training competition — a bid that could possibly create 200 jobs for Greenville. “The T-50A uniquely balances maturity with fifth-generation adaptability, which will deliver ahead of schedule and on-cost. Simply put, we are ready now,” said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. The Air Force announced last year that it wants 350 new jets to replace its Northrop T-38 Talon jet trainers, which, according to Northrop Grumman, were produced from 1961 to 1972. The Air Force uses the T-38 aircraft for undergraduate pilot training. The Pentagon issued a request for proposals in December and set the submission deadline for March 30. Lockheed Martin submitted its proposed aircraft design for consideration last month, according to Carvalho. Instead of a clean-sheet design, 4

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Lockheed Martin decided to offer a modified version of the T-50 Golden Eagle, a supersonic advanced trainer jet that was developed by Lockheed Martin and Korean Aerospace Industries in the 1990s. The T-50 has more than 142,000 flight hours and has trained more than 2,000 fighter pilots. But Lockheed Martin decided to upgrade the aircraft and partnered once again with Korean Aerospace Industries to produce the T-50A. The aircraft features an aerial refueling receptacle on its dorsal and a ground-based training system. It also includes a fifth-generation cockpit similar to what’s installed in the F-35 Lightning II and open system architecture, which allows for faster integration of new sensors, weapons, and other capabilities. On Monday, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., visited Lockheed Martin’s Greenville Operation Center at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center to praise the aircraft’s capabilities. “This investment is about as sound as the Air Force can make. You’ve got a fighter that’s already operational.

And we know it meets the performance criteria for the fifth-generation pilot training aircraft,” said Graham, a retired Air Force Reserve colonel and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “President Trump, this is a damn good deal. Buy these planes,” Graham said. Last year, Lockheed Martin announced that it would conduct the final assembly and checkout for the trainer jet at its Greenville facility. The company plans to produce four aircraft a month if awarded the contract, creating about 200 jobs at the company’s Greenville location, which now employs 475 people. But Lockheed Martin isn’t the only company competing for the contract. Boeing and Saab have submitted a twin-seat single-engine trainer jet, known as the BTX, that features an open systems architecture and a glass cockpit modeled to resemble that of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Feature. Sierra Nevada Corp. and Turkish Aerospace Industries have submitted a new aircraft design. U.S. aerospace company Stavatti and Italy’s Leonardo submitted variants of their current

aircraft. Textron AirLand, Northrup Grumman, and Raytheon canceled their plans to enter the competition earlier this year. Richard Aboulafia, a senior aerospace analyst at Teal Group, an aerospace consultancy firm in Fairfax, Va., recently told the Upstate Business Journal that Lockheed Martin has a 60 percent chance of winning the Air Force contract because its aircraft doesn’t involve a lot of upfront development costs that add to the price. The Air Force plans to evaluate flight test data from the companies in June and select the winner by 2018, according to Graham. Initial operational capability is 2024. The contract is worth up to $16 billion. On Monday, Graham said he’s discussing Lockheed Martin’s proposal with the Trump Administration. “I’m really emphasizing the [South] Korea connection. If you want to reset the world, stand firmly with South Korea. And if you want to get value for your money, buy this jet,” Graham said. Graham also said Lockheed Martin would likely garner approval from Congress to sell 19 F-16 fighter jets to the government of Bahrain. The


“President Trump, this is a damn good deal. Buy these planes.” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham

company plans to move production of the aircraft to Greenville if the deal is approved. Lockheed Martin currently produces the F-16 in Fort Worth, Texas. But the Fort Worth factory needs to make room for additional production of the F-35 fighter jet, according to Don Erickson, site director for Lockheed Martin’s Greenville Operations Center. The company plans to complete its final order of 18 F-16 fighter jets for Iraq this year at the Fort Worth factory, where it has made the fighter

jet since the late 1970s, according to Lockheed Martin spokesman John Losinger. After that, Lockheed Martin expects to produce the fighter jets for Bahrain. However, Losinger said the deal hasn’t been cleared yet by the State Department or Congress, a requirement for the sale of any advanced military equipment to a foreign country. Aboulafia said the deal is more likely to move forward under the Trump administration than the Obama administration, which had

taken the position that Bahrain’s human rights record needed to improve first. “We’ve been preparing for this for some time, and we’re very excited about the opportunity. We’re confident that we can restart the F-16 line here in Greenville,” said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group. “We’re getting a lot of support from Congress.” McLean said the fabrication and assembly of the F-16 could begin


sometime in 2018 if the deal is approved. That would likely mean up to 180 jobs for Lockheed Martin’s Greenville Operations Center in southern Greenville County. The company is also pursuing F-16 sales to other foreign governments. The U.S. and India, for example, are negotiating a deal that could involve more than 100 of the aircraft. But as part of that deal, India will likely insist that production of the jet be moved within its own borders, Aboulafia said. But Lockheed Martin’s Greenville Operations Center might produce the first round of planes sold to India and maintain some of the work over the life of the contract. Graham said Lockheed Martin’s F-16, which is no longer purchased by the U.S. government, shows promise in other countries. “I think you’re going to find more and more Middle East nations and other countries throughout the world wanting to buy the Lockheed Martin F-16,” Graham said.

THANK YOU To presenting sponsor JPMorgan Chase and the 300 Upstate business representatives who attended our 2017 Annual Meeting

UpstateSCAlliance Business moves here.

www.upstateSCalliance.com 4.14.2017







Former Spartanburg Chamber chair Todd Horne announces candidacy for mayor

Todd Horne has been involved with the Spartanburg Young Professionals, Hub-Bub, and Ten at the Top. TREVOR ANDERSON | STAFF

tanderson@communityjournals.com Todd Horne believes Spartanburg is unequaled in nurturing the aspirations of its young professionals. And the 34-year-old husband and father of two plans to put that theory to the test like he never has before. On Tuesday, April 11, Horne, vice president of business development for Spartanburg-based Clayton Construction Co. and 2016 chairman of the Spartanburg Chamber, announced his candidacy for the Spartanburg mayor’s seat during a ceremony at the Monarch Café and Fresh Food Store near downtown. Filing for the race will open on June 14, according to Spartanburg County's office of Voter Registration and Elections. Horne will face incumbent Mayor Junie White in November. As of Tuesday, no other candidates have revealed plans to run. But that could change in the coming months. Upstate Business Journal caught up with Horne to discuss his candidacy and vision for the city of Spartanburg.

What made you decide to run for mayor? In my position at Clayton Construction Co., I have spent time all over the region. Since we are based in Spartanburg, I have not only been promoting the company but also promoting Spartanburg as a great place to live, work, and play. Selling Spartanburg — that’s what I love to do. That’s what’s the most fun.

What’s next for Spartanburg? Greenville Mayor Knox White told me he believes that every community has a Falls Park; you just have to figure out what it is. I think it’s [Morgan] Square. He said he believes the Montgomery Building [redevelopment] will do the same thing for downtown 6

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Spartanburg that the Westin [Poinsett] did for Greenville. … The mayor is a connector. They are responsible for connecting the dots. That’s something I do every day.

What are some of your other priorities? There is still a lot of poverty in the community, and I think we have to continue to address those needs. I think we need to continue to improve our gateways to downtown. That’s something that can be addressed with those public-private partnerships. … We’ve already raised more than $50,000 in commitments for this campaign. I’ve been having meetings and focusing on understanding what people want in a leader.

In regards to favoritism, what would you say to those who believe certain people or companies might get preferential treatment? I would say every person is only one out of 35,000 in the city. We need to be inclusive and mindful of the needs of all of our citizens, and not show any favoritism. There are a lot of people in this city and no single person, the mayor included, is more important than any others..

What does Spartanburg need? We have to continue to drive economic development. With 35 percent of our land mass not taxable, we’ve got to be proactive versus reactive. As a city, we need a mayor who is going to be visible. We need someone who is going to tell our story on a local level and at a regional level. We need someone who is accountable and accessible.

What are some other key issues? I think retaining young talent is important. We have 15,000 college students from all walks of life

here. Keeping them here will have a very good impact. Affordable housing is going to be important. … I’d like to see more startups. Part of that is having co-working space. We’ve got to have places where people can collaborate, network, and build relationships. Quality of life will be very important. We have to be somewhere where people want to live.

THE CANDIDATE Age: 34 Family: Wife, Stephanie; daughter, Harper, 4; and son, Holton, 2. Job: Vice President of Business Development at Spartanburg-based Clayton Construction Co. Political Experience: None Public Service: Chairman of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, 2016; board of directors member for Hub-Bub, Ten at the Top, and Spartanburg Young Professionals. Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of South Carolina – Upstate, 2005. Awards: Spartanburg Chamber Volunteer of the Year, 2009; Leadership Spartanburg Emerging Leader Award, 2012; Spartanburg Chamber Young Professional of the Year, 2013; Leadership Spartanburg Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year, 2016; Upstate Business Journal Who’s Who Wild Card, 2016; USC Upstate Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2016




BMW: ‘We Need Diversity’ Automaker’s annual Tier 1 Supplier Diversity Matchmaker Conference brings together women-, minority-, and veteranowned businesses


tanderson@communityjournals.com When Dionne Sandiford walked through the doors of the TD Convention Center two years ago, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The Greenville businesswoman was just hoping to connect with a few people who could help her grow her small embroidery business, A Celebration of Us LLC, which she had originally started as a hobby. She felt like the proverbial small fish in a large pond as she mingled with business leaders who had gathered for the fourth installment of Spartanburg County-based BMW Manufacturing Co.’s annual Tier 1 Supplier Diversity Matchmaker Conference. In her arms, she carried a stack of golf towels embroidered with the logos of a handful of BMW suppliers. Sandiford said she gave out all but two towels to the companies on her list and hoped the towels, as well as her company logo on her “uniform shirt,” might earn her a call back. But little did she know her life was about to change forever. “I walked around and did my dog and pony show,” Sandiford said. “I had sat down at a table next to Joan Benore and her daughter, Jaimie [Benore]. Jaimie and I had something in common because she had just worked on a T-shirt quilt project and that’s one of the things I do a lot of.” Joan Benore is a principal of Benore Logistic Systems, a BMW supplier that has participated in the diversity conference since its inception in 2012. “If I knew who she was, I probably would’ve been too afraid to talk to them,” Sandiford said. “We really hit it off. God blessed me.” After the event, the logistics company had a golf outing for its employees and customers. Benore remembered Sandiford and placed a large order for golf towels. The company then decided to give out baby blankets to new parents within its workforce, and the company again called Sandiford.

Dionne Sandiford, owner of a small embroidery business, made connections and gained clients at BMW’s Supplier Diversity Matchmaker Conference. Photo by Stacey Smith.

Sandiford also received an order from Berrang Inc., another one of the companies she met at the conference, to do the logos on the company’s work shirts. “What this conference did for me is it gave me confidence,” she said. “I was a small dog just sitting on the porch. Now I’m a medium dog and I’m ready to step off the porch. Soon I’ll be a big dog and I’ll be ready to run with the rest of them.” Sandiford was one of about 2,000 people from across the country that attended this year’s conference held Thursday, April 6, at the TD Center. Louise Connell, supplier diversity coordinator for BMW, said the event featured 213 of BMW’s Tier 1 suppliers and community partners. The event was originally geared toward women- and minority-owned businesses. This year, BMW added veteran-owned business to the list. Connell said the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in the plant’s supplier network has increased by 400 percent during the past five years. “It’s something we’re very proud of,” she said. Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co., kicked off this year’s event with a short speech during a luncheon where he thanked suppliers for their work. “Your success story is also our success story in the U.S.,” he said. It is estimated that the Spartanburg plant supports more than 37,000 jobs in South Carolina. “The U.S. is our second home,” he said. “We’re here to deliver, not only to produce. We want to create jobs and support your businesses to make this company grow.”

Markus Duesmann, board of management member for purchasing for BMW Group, said BMW employs about 70,000 people in the U.S. “We need diversity,” Duesmann said. “As a leading manufacturer, inclusiveness enables us to attract and retain talent — to develop a talented supply chain.” Theresa Carrington, founder of The Blessing Basket Project and a winner of BMW’s Intercultural Innovation Award, served as the keynote speaker. Participants were each gifted a placemat crafted by women in Uganda who are among artisans in seven countries supported by Carrington’s nonprofit. She encouraged attendees to embrace their own stories and share them with others. Those in attendance also were given the opportunity to glimpse into the future at BMW. The automaker showed off the four BMW Vision NEXT 100 vehicles it introduced in 2016 as part of its centennial celebration. After the luncheon, those in attendance gathered in a separate hall for the networking portion of the conference. John Ryan, engineering systems manager for BMW supplier FAIST ChemTec Inc. in Gastonia, N.C., said his company found the conference to be helpful. “I’ve never been to a trade show quite like this one,” Ryan said. “A lot of people come up to us and they want to ask us what we do. … I am glad that BMW does this. Diversity is important to our customers.”


CHICAGO! 4.14.2017








Bohemian-style brewery planned for Spartanburg TREVOR ANDERSON | STAFF

tanderson@communityjournals.com A new brewery, Spartanburg Brewing LLC, will open this summer near the city’s western gateway to downtown in a 4,000-square-foot building at 101 Chester St. A venture founded by four friends — Petr Valenta, David Wenstrup, Tim Meade, and Pradip Bahukudumbi — the brewery will feature five Bohemian-style lagers, some food, comfortable indoor lounge space, and ample outdoor space for a range of activities, including a beer garden, beach volleyball, and live music. “We want to be the most pleasant place to go in Spartanburg for a beer,” said Valenta. “The reason we chose to do this in Spartanburg is because we

feel it has a lot of potential and we want to be a part of its success.” Valenta is originally from Pilsen, a town in the Czech Republic renowned as the birthplace of pilsners, widely considered the most popular style of beer in the world. A 37-year-old senior research chemist for Spartanburg-based Milliken & Co., Valenta started brewing beer in college. He has continued the hobby and has a homebrew setup in his garage. About a year ago, he and his three coworkers were sitting around sipping some of his homebrewed lager when they decided to take it to the next level. Valenta said the lagers will range from light to dark. Initially, the brewery will only sell beers on draft, but could eventually bottle its brews

Petr Valenta, co-founder of Spartanburg Brewing LLC, is originally from Pilsen, Czech Republic, which is the birthplace of pilsner-style beers. Photo by Trevor Anderson. and partner with a distributor. “That’s always a possibility,” he said. The owners are in the process of renovating the building, which sits on a half-acre lot and formerly housed an auto detailing shop. About half of the building will be dedicated to brewing and the other half will be retail and lounge space. Property records showed Spartanburg Brewing acquired the property and an adjacent half-acre lot in June 2016 by quitclaim deed for less than $29,000.

Valenta said he is still mulling over all of the possibilities for the outdoor space, but he said there will be plenty of space for long picnic tables and benches and outdoor games. He anticipates hiring about 10 employees for the brewery. All of the owners will be involved. They have applied for their state liquor license and federal brewer’s license. “We definitely think there is a beer movement in Spartanburg,” Valenta said. “Everyone has been very helpful.”


Mayor Danner aims to boost Countybank's presence in Greer RUDOLPH BELL | STAFF

rbell@communityjournals.com For 15 of the 17 years Rick Danner has been mayor of Greer, he worked at Greer State Bank. Recently, however, he took a new job as vice president of business development for Greenwood-based Countybank. The move came just as the four-branch Greer State Bank was purchased by the Charleston-based parent company of CresCom Bank in a stock-and-cash deal valued at about $45 million. Danner changed jobs after talking with his friend and former boss Ken Harper, who ran Greer State Bank before becoming Countybank’s chief operating officer. Making the switch was “an opportunity to be a part of a group of folks and a business model that I 8

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think was more reflective of what I was used to than what I foresaw was going to be the case at CresCom,” Danner said. Founded in 1933 in Greenwood, Countybank has nine office or ATM locations in Greenwood and Greenville counties. The 63-year-old Danner — originally from Knoxville, Rick Danner. Tenn. — married a Greer Photo provided. native after attending Clemson University. He and his wife, Rita, live two blocks from where she spent her childhood in downtown Greer.

Right now, Countybank’s Greer office is located at 103 N. Main St. Danner is one of three employees working to boost the bank’s business in the city and find a different location for its first branch. Working with him are two other former employees of Greer State Bank: lifelong Greer resident Kevin Duncan, who is Countybank’s new Greer city executive, and Melody Owens, whose title is vice president of communications. Owens’ husband, Mark Owens, is president of the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce. “We want to see what we can do in the Greer area,” Danner said. “Countybank has a banking model that I think is something that will appeal to the Greer market, particularly to those small- and medium-sized businesses that are used to dealing with somebody that they know and trust.”




USC Upstate teams with BB&T for leadership program USC Upstate’s George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics is working with The BB&T Leadership Institute to offer qualified students entry into the six-hour Emerging Leadership Certification Program. The program, one of several offered at other schools, helps participants not only identify different leadership styles but also understand and develop their own leadership qualities. The BB&T Leadership Institute was established to give organizations a leadership development partner to help foster leadership skills. “During this time, the vast majority of BB&T's senior leaders have benefited greatly from their psychological approach to leadership development,” the university said in a statement. The institute currently operates out of High Point, N.C. In 2016, 819 higher-education students were certified through the Emerging Leadership Program. The two-day certification includes assessments that help students articulate their strengths, as well as a leadership preferences inventory that reveals to students their leadership styles, both under stress and in low-stress situations. More information about The BB&T Leadership Institute can be found at BBTLeadershipInstitute.com. —Staff Report


5 cities to visit Greenville for Amazing Place Ideas Forum Delegates from five cities will visit Greenville in November to learn how the city has used historic preservation and brownfield redevelopment to create “one of America’s most beautiful Main Streets and a vibrant downtown.” The Amazing Place Ideas Forum, presented by Smart Growth America, has announced that leadership teams from Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Macon, Ga.; and Wichita, Kan. will visit Greenville Nov. 14–16. The participants will also visit Denver August 29–31, to study how that city has used transit, strategic redevelopment, and the arts to attract millennials. “Denver and Greenville exemplify the Amazing Place approach to local economic development,” said Smart Growth America in a statement. “The five selected communities will get an up-close look at how they’re doing it, but this is an approach that any community can use.” Greenville was featured in Smart Growth America’s 2016 study, “Amazing Place: Six Cities Using the New Recipe for Economic Development.” Denver; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Pittsburgh; and Boise, Idaho, were the other cities featured. —Staff Report


3 hhgregg stores closing in Upstate Upstate consumers will have fewer options for buying electronics, appliances, and furniture now that the hhgregg retail chain is going out of business. The Indianapolis-based retailer said Friday it was unable to find a buyer for the business, which had filed for bankruptcy protection in March, and would therefore liquidate its assets and close its stores, The Associated Press reported. The chain's corporate office did not immediately respond on Monday to email and telephone inquiries from UBJ about hhgregg outlets in Greenville, Spartanburg, and Anderson. A person who answered the phone in the Spartanburg store said the store would close at the end of May. Another employee in the Spartanburg store referred questions to the corporate office. —Rudolph Bell 4.14.2017



Living Wage A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for an individual to maintain a normal standard of living. The living wage calculation typically covers expenses necessary to support a family including housing, medical costs, child care, food, and transportation. It does not include vacation, saving for retirement, or paying off past debt. The calculation is based on geographic areas for individuals working fulltime and the most recent one was compiled by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In Greenville County, the living wage for one adult is $10.21 per hour while the living wage for one adult with two children is $25.03 per hour. If there are two working adults in the family with two children, the living wage per adult reduces to $13.82 per hour. Compare this to the current minimum wage in South Carolina of $7.25 per hour. As a Human Resources professional, the discussion surrounding living wage is important to me and it should be important to all business owners. Can a business that has large numbers of low wage employees increase wages to a more suitable living wage and still be profitable? To answer this, businesses need to focus on the long term and be willing to make short term sacrifices. Yet overall, a living wage policy can be good for your business: • Decrease in employee turnover. When employees make higher wages, they feel valued and are less likely to leave the position. Employee turnover is expensive and there are hard costs associated with recruitment, training, and lost time. • Attract more qualified workers. By paying higher wages, companies may be able to recruit more skilled workers who would have otherwise not applied. • Improve employee morale. When employees are compensated fairly, they feel appreciated and respected. The business benefits from increased productivity, efficiency, and a sense of pride in the work. The reasons above are hard to place a dollar value on, but the return on investment is real. Companies have always invested in high level professionals as strategic assets, but now many businesses are finding that investing in front-line employees through a living wage is a smart business strategy as well. Costco, Trader Joe’s, and QuikTrip have all been leaders of the living wage investment strategy yet they have kept their prices low and out-performed competition. In addition, these employees now make more money which adds to the local economy. Do I believe a living wage policy is best for employees? Yes, I certainly feel that I would not be able to raise my family on a minimum wage and be a productive member of society. I believe that if you work full-time, you should not be stressed each month about meeting your basic needs. But, I also believe that a living wage strategy is best for business too. Paying living wages can increase job satisfaction, productivity, and loyalty. It is good for business, workers and the community. Employees are the backbone of business and I feel that investing in employees is the single most important investment that a company can make.

Lee Yarborough President

669 N. Academy St. Greenville, SC 29601 propelHR.com Info@propelHR.com 800–446–6567



Uncrashable Servosity chief Damien Stevens balances risk-taking with learning — and some luck along the way WORDS BY LAURA HAIGHT | PHOTO BY WILL CROOKS

Damien Stevens was 14 when his grandmother bought him his first computer. He had combed the local newspaper ads and classifieds and eventually found one they could afford. When his grandmother came to visit a week later and see how he was enjoying it, she was shocked at what she found: pieces of the computer strewn across the small living room in their Spartanburg apartment. “She was horrified,” he laughs. The 14-year-old, who tore a computer apart so he could figure out how it worked, is not that far removed from the 38-year-old entrepreneur who sees voids and tries to fill them, whether he knows anything about them or not. Stevens’ personal journey is a precarious, but successful balance between risk-taking and a passion for learning — and trying — new things. One thing Stevens is not, however, is reckless. Although there’s no doubt


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that he has been lucky. “I don’t believe in luck, but in God’s timing and providence,” Stevens corrects. “I am a very religious person, but I wasn’t always.” He admits that most of his life, “I was running from God.” Stevens didn’t bring his religion up, but he does put “I am so blessed” as part of his email signature on business and personal emails. “It’s a small thing I can do,” he says. “I never force my beliefs on anyone, but I’ll talk about it if people ask. And you’d be surprised how many do.”


Stevens and his sister were raised by a single mom after his dad left when they were 2. From an early age, he had to work to contribute to the family. He dropped out of high school at 15 after “35–40 days” of class, so he could work full time. He took a job in a cotton mill and immediately signed up to take the GED the next

time it was offered — and he passed. When he tried, Stevens recalls, he did well in school. “I was not the dullest crayon in the box, but I wasn’t any genius phenom by any means. I don’t know that the GED is that high of a bar.” The cotton mill was hard work, and although he worked a minimum of 48 hours a week, he registered for Spartanburg Technical College, where he found an intriguing robotics program. He worked second shift from 3 to 11 p.m., studied at night, and got up and went to class from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. “It taught me two things: to respect hard work, and it forced me to realize that life is hard and I should really focus on what I am doing here.” He heard about and was one of two students accepted into a Kohler internship working with factory automation systems and robotics. At 17, though, he was too young to work in the factory, so he had to wait for

the second year of the program. Throughout college, he jumped from full-time job to full-time job: slinging burgers at Hardees, installing car audio, configuring computers, and helping users get connected to the brand-new World Wide Web. “I had a lot of jobs, but I didn’t stick around long,” Stevens says, citing “a combination of wanting and opportunity for growth and being young and impatient and not willing to wait for that growth.”


At 19, with one semester left to go to earn his associate degree, Stevens dropped out of college and made his first risky play. “I wanted to start my own business and was looking for something to do,” he says. Stevens and his best friend perceived “this computer stuff is red hot; let’s do that.” Financed with his life savings of $3,000, they started Utopia Net in Spartanburg and decided to build


websites — something they knew nothing about. Stevens sold his first website for $1,000 to a former boss. “So then I had to figure out how to build one,” he remembers. Was it risky? Not to Stevens, who saw it as betting on himself in a fledgling area. There was an unfilled void, and Stevens jumped in. Utopia Net grew from two guys working out of their house to one of the Upstate’s top website developers just seven years later. Success didn’t fill the void for Stevens — at least not for long. And he started looking to acquire a business. “We needed it for our own business. We were hosting but didn’t have the budget for either backup or disaster recovery for our clients. The products we looked at were either overpriced, didn’t work, or both.” Stevens, who describes himself as a parallel entrepreneur, formed Servosity in 2005 to solve a problem for Utopia Net and address an unmet need in a growing market.


In June 2010, Stevens hired himself, closed Utopia Net, and jumped headlong into Servosity. “I really knew nothing in the earlier days. I sought out and sought out and sought out mentors. I called everyone in Greenville who was even moderately successful and asked if they would talk to me,” he remembers. “At one point I realized I had sat down with more than 100 entrepreneurs and picked their brains.” Relationships, mentorships, and connections have been essential to the growth and strength of both Servosity and its founder. “Getting involved with Next was foundational for us,” Stevens says, noting the many relationships that were forged in the hallways and at the monthly meetings of the Next Innovation Center community in Greenville. At Utopia Net, he networked at Spartanburg Business After Hours, but found a more energized tech community in Greenville. He got involved with groups of IT leaders that later became the Greenville Spartanburg Technology Council (GSATC), of which he is a founding board member.

Success has, if anything, deepened his belief in the importance of mentorship. He has a group of CEOs that are a board of advisors for Servosity, and a 12-year relationship with an accountability partner. Together they hold each other accountable for business goals and force each other out of comfort zones. He cites two mentors: Walker McKay, a sales consultant and trainer, and Leighton Cubbage, co-founder and board chair of Serrus Capital Partners. He’s had a more-than-decade-long relationship with both. And the experience has instilled in him a greater desire to pass along what he knows to others. Stevens is also quick to point out that he knows what is important. What’s the most important thing he’s ever done? Getting married, having a family, and holding on to it despite all the challenges. “I got married and started Servosity in the same year. Both were frightening,” he jokes. He and his wife, Evelyn, have two children — John, 6, and Peter, 4. “I am super thankful to have her, my boys, and the rest of my family,” he says.




Servosity has been a bright shiny object for investors and acquisitive entrepreneurs. Between 2013 and 2015, the company received $2.2 million in investment capital. At the same time, it fielded several acquisition offers. But for Stevens, it’s never been about the money. “I am not a buildit-to-flip-it person,” Stevens says. “My goal is to do what we set out to do, which is to make the world’s servers uncrashable. And until we achieve that, I’m not willing to stop. I’m not just going to sell. I’m not building a company just for the money. If we do an awesome job, the rest will take care of itself.” Stevens’ personal journey has benefited from some lucky breaks. And what some would call risk-taking has paid off. But Stevens says he is no gambler: “I don’t bet, and I don’t buy lottery tickets. But I will bet on myself and on my team all day long.”





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With a new smartphone device, Aluma Connect hopes to prevent sexual assaults WORDS BY ALLISON WALSH PHOTOS BY WILL CROOKS & JACK ROBERT

odd Baldree, a Greenville-based entrepreneur, made his mark providing outsourced contact center solutions for the apartment industry. After selling his most recent venture, Level One, he took some time off and starting looking for what came next. “I wanted it to have some kind of social purpose, not just capitalistic,” Baldree says. Two things happened to set him on his path. Baldree was invited to attend a sex trafficking prevention fundraiser, which opened his eyes to how prolific a problem it has become. Around the same time, he watched “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses. Add to this the fact that Baldree is the father of a daughter quickly approaching college age, with a son not far behind, and what came next seemed pretty clear: a smartphone device designed to prevent sexual assault. According to Baldree, the Aluma Connect combines the best of what is currently on the market with a nearly foolproof way to make sure it’s always with you when you need it. “When I started down this path of personal safety devices, what I was sur-


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UBJ | 4.14.2017

prised to learn was there wasn’t anything that attached to a cellphone. There was this whole wave of wearables that are key fobs or necklaces or rings or whatever, but you have to remember to bring those with you,” Baldree says. There is a “whole wave” of standalone personal safety apps, he notes, but to access those, a user in distress may have to fumble with the phone’s lock screen. As he dug deeper, he uncovered statistics suggesting noise is an effective deterrent in many sexual assault cases. “So I thought if we can attach something to a cellphone that has an alarm, that then triggers an app to tell people that you might be in trouble, it seems like you’ve kind of got the solution figured out,” Baldree says.

Interrupting ‘uncomfortable situations’ The Aluma Connect allows users to set up a network of up to five

trusted contacts who receive a text and an email when the alarm is triggered, either by pulling out the attached wristband to trigger a 135-decibel audible alarm or pressing a button on the device to send a silent alert. The contacts can indicate whether they are available to help and then are joined on a conference call to coordinate next steps. The wristband is attached for times when a wearable is appropriate — running, for instance, or walking alone at night — but can be stored when not worn. 4 E1 While he was working on AG P on the concept for Aluma ed u Connect, Baldree in nt co was introduced A UM to Tracy AL


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If triggered, this silent alarm sends a message to friends

When this wristband is pulled from the phone, this alarm hits 135 decibels







ALUMA continued from PAGE 12

Carson, a graduate of Presbyterian College and licensed mental health counselor who regularly speaks to college audiences about sexual assault. Baldree saw an opportunity to add to the depth of his mission by bringing Carson on board as his director of education. “Todd wanted to bring someone on that had clinical experience around sexual assault, bullying, and isolation,” Carson says, adding that she was impressed with how user-friendly the device is, specifically for college students. Megan Fallon works in Clemson University’s Title IX office as the school’s interpersonal violence prevention coordinator. While she agrees it’s never bad to have personal security tools at one’s disposal, she cautions against the false sense of security those devices may create among young people putting themselves in situations where alcohol is fueling poor choices all around. “The body responds to trauma in a very specific way — fight, flight, or freeze — and most people freeze,” Fallon says. “I’m always wary of products, and even some curriculum, that put the onus on the victim. The larger conversation needs to be around how do we continue to reach the younger population with conversations about healthy consensual sexual decision-making.” Carson says the young women she speaks with on college campuses tell her they are bombarded with education and heeding the advice, but traveling in groups and sticking to familiar surroundings doesn’t

ALUMA CONNECT FOUNDER: Todd Baldree PRODUCT: Personal safety device that connects to a smartphone POTENTIAL MARKET: College students are a “no-brainer,” says Baldree — but he also sees usefulness for bullied children, seniors, and “anybody whose job requires them to be alone with strange people.” DIFFERENTIATORS: Unlike other personal safety devices, your cellphone is always with you, says Baldree. Being able to trigger an alarm directly saves the need to go through several phone screens to access a standalone app. A silent alarm is a “game-changer,” says education director Tracy Carson. FEATURED ON: Mashable, USA Today, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Best of CES 2017, C|NET, and Huffington Post AVAILABILITY: The company is taking pre-orders, with shipping expected this summer. UNIT PRICE: $99.99 for single device, plus $2 monthly subscription


UBJ | 4.14.2017

help when the danger isn’t strangers. This is where Fallon and Carson agree: The vast majority of sexual assaults on college campuses are performed by someone the victim knows, and often likes. And this is where Carson thinks the silent alarm feature sets Aluma Connect apart — helping young women discreetly signal their friends that an uncomfortable situation needs interrupting. “The silent alarm is a game-changer for college women,” Carson says. “They’re not going to sound an [audible] alarm in a fraternity house just because they’re making out with somebody and don’t want to anymore. I can’t tell you how many women have said, ‘I was in a situation and just didn’t know how to get out of it.’”

‘Can’t solve for everything’ Baldree sees the value in educating young people about sexual assault, and to that end he and his team are developing the Man Up Project, designed to target high school and college-age-men with messaging around “manning up and doing the right thing,” and taking the “cool factor” out of sexual assault from the male perspective. “The thing I had to realize was I can’t solve for everything. I don’t think there’s a way to put an end to crime, but I think we can do our fair share of it,” Baldree says. “If someone has a better solution, I actually will support that solution, because we’re trying to solve a problem.”

Todd Baldree, founder of Aluma Connect. Photo by Jack Robert.

While the college market is a “no-brainer,” Baldree plans to target other segments as well. “It’s really anybody 10 years old or older that has a smartphone,” he says. This could mean middle school kids being bullied, or high school kids whose decision-making skills are clouded by hormones, alcohol, and the freedom that comes with a driver’s license. The adult group, he says, can be broken down into categories like runners, real estate agents, home health workers, Uber drivers — anyone whose job requires them to be alone with strange people. “Then we were really surprised to learn this seniors market,” Baldree says. “Thirteen million seniors live by themselves in America, and they may not like some of the alternatives that are out there. They don’t want to wear a necklace; they don’t want to feel old.” Carson says in an age when grandparents are FaceTiming their grandkids and bragging about them on social media, products marketed to this segment should be keeping pace with their tech savvy. “I’m excited about reducing the stigma and shame of adulthood and aging,” she says. “[Older adults] are aging with their smartphones, so why wouldn’t their safety device match the technology of the environment they’re aging in?” Baldree expects the first iteration of Aluma Connect to ship this summer. An individual device will retail for $99.99, plus a $2 monthly subscription fee for the app, and bundles of three or more will sell for $89.99 per device.



Six redevelopment plans submitted for County Square RUDOLPH BELL | STAFF


Design Strategies, a candidate for the County Square development project, previously designed a BMW information technology center at CU-ICAR. Photo by Will Crooks

Greenville County has received six proposals for redeveloping County Square in another step forward for what promises to be a historic change in downtown Greenville. County spokesman Bob Mihalic released the names of nine companies that he said together submitted six separate development plans for the prominent, county-owned property of nearly 38 acres next to Falls Park. The county issued a request for proposals (RFP) to redevelop County Square in January, and developers had until Thursday, April 6, to respond. Mihalic said the county won’t make the development proposals public right now. The county is scheduled to evaluate the proposals by April 27, host presentations by the top candidates on May 25, and pick the winner by June 1. County officials instructed developers to include in their proposals a plan for building a 250,000-squarefoot office building to house county operations and replace the former shopping center building at County Square that has served as the county’s main base of operations since 1987.

County officials also asked for a 1,000-space parking garage to be included in the development proposals. According to Mihalic, the following development teams submitted proposals:

East West Partners and Design Strategies Based in Avon, Colo., East West Partners has developed extensively in Denver and the resort communities of Vail Valley, Colo.; Lake Tahoe, Calif.; Deer Valley, Utah; and Kauai, Hawaii. The company has also developed in Charlotte, Hilton Head Island, and Charleston, where seven of its executives are based. Its work in Charleston includes a 9,000-square-foot art gallery at Waterfront Park and Gadsdenboro Park, a downtown development that combines housing with a 66,000-square-foot office building. In Denver, East West Partners developed a mixed-use project in the Union Station area that included 1,300 residences, 75,000 square feet

of retail space, and a 325,000-squarefoot office building, according to its website. Design Strategies, based in Greenville, provides an array of services, including architecture, engineering, and planning. It was founded by Greenville architect Ben Rook, who has designed many prominent buildings and complexes in the Greenville area, including the headquarters of Michelin North America, the Main @ Broad development along Main Street, and the building at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research that houses a BMW information technology center. Rook said he considers the County Square property to be the South Carolina’s best remaining developable tract inside of a city.

RocaPoint Partners Based in Atlanta, RocaPoint is the Southeastern affiliate of New York’s Georgetown Co., whose national real estate portfolio is worth billions of dollars, according to Phil Mays, a RocaPoint principal. Previous Georgetown projects include the development of InterAc-

tiveCorp’s headquarters in New York City and the redevelopment of the former Herald Examiner newspaper offices in downtown Los Angeles.

Crosland Southeast and Northwood Ravin Crosland Southeast’s previous work includes The Shops at Greenridge shopping center along Woodruff Road in Greenville. The company also developed the 42-acre Biltmore Park Town Square in Asheville, N.C., which includes a YMCA, a 15-screen theater, a hotel, housing, shopping, and the North American headquarters of Volvo Construction Equipment. Northwood Ravin is an apartment developer. Both companies are based in Charlotte.

Armada Hoffler Properties and CitiSculpt Armada Hoffler Properties is a publicly traded real estate investment trust based in Virginia Beach, Va. Its portfolio includes a 327,123-squarefoot office tower in Virginia Beach that houses its own headquarters and







Union Station in Denver, a mixed-use project that includes 1,300 residences, 75,000 square feet of retail space, and a 325,000-square-foot office building. Photo provided by East West Partners other tenants, according to the company’s website. CitiSculpt is a Charlotte-based developer with an office in Greenville. Working on the same development team are Greenville developer and commercial real estate broker Steve Navarro and Greenville

architect Joe Pazdan, Lindsey McAlpine, managing partner of CitiSculpt, has told UBJ. Stephanie Maheu, a spokeswoman for Armada Hoffler, said it hopes to form a joint venture with CitiSculpt to serve as master developer for County Square. “Our development team has a

resume that includes several vertically-integrated, mixed-use developments ranging in size up to $600 million and a collective 26 public-private partnership projects that we have successfully developed and constructed,” she told UBJ. Don Oglesby, president of Homes of Hope, a Greenville-based nonprofit organization, said the organization plans to build mixed-income housing — 15 single-family homes and 63 townhomes — on six acres of the County Square property under an agreement with the CitiSculpt team.

Municipal Consolidation and Construction The goal of Municipal Consolidation and Construction is to “consolidate city-county and/or state entities into modern, efficient, state-of-the-art facilities,” according to its website. The company is a subsidiary of the Franklin L. Haney Company, a

developer based in Washington, D.C., whose previous work includes a 21-story office building in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Carolina Holdings Inc. Carolina Holdings is a Greenville-based developer whose previous projects include 80 CVS drug stores, mostly in the Carolinas and Tennessee, and a 1 million-squarefoot shopping center in Mount Juliet, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville, in partnership with Crosland. Carolina Holdings has developed numerous projects in the Greenville area, including a new, 18-acre development along Woodruff Road in the Five Forks area anchored by a Lowes Foods grocery. Robert Martin, a Carolina Holdings principal, said the company has teamed with other companies for its County Square submittal that have not been publicly named.

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Is Diversity Your Competitive Edge? By SHERRY PITTINGER Greenville Small Business Development Center

thinking of ways to stay ahead of the competition. You consider your pricing strategy, mix of products and services you offer, getting better at social media, etc., but it still doesn’t seem to get you to that next level. Many times it is beneficial to take a break from the daily hustle and look at your company from a different perspective. One opportunity that often gets overlooked is the diversity that may exist in the ownership of your company. Is your business owned by a veteran, woman, or minority? If so, there are resources available. Two of the biggest opportunities are participation in a supplier diversity program and becoming certified within your particular designation.

Supplier diversity programs A major key to breaking into new markets is being a diversity supplier of goods and services. Both private sector corporations and government agencies have supplier diversity programs that cover several categories such as minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, etc. These programs require that the person with controlling interest (51 percent) meet the eligibility requirements of the categories listed above. Supplier diversity programs recognize that sourcing products and services from previously underused suppliers helps to sustain and progressively transform a company's supply chain. Many of the large corporations in the Upstate have well-defined supplier diversity programs where they proactively seek companies that mirror their diverse workforce and customers. Several programs even provide indepth training to make sure that requirements can be met and opportunities are well understood.

Certification programs Getting your company certified could also serve as a stepping-stone to more

business opportunities. There are several types of certification programs. Some have a registration fee and some do not. A short list is included here:

If so, there are resources available to help you grow your business.

Certifications That Require a Fee:

Questions to consider include:

A. Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBENC); registration fees start at $350. B. Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council (CVMSDC); registration fees start at $100.

• What markets are you currently serving and what do your sales figures look like in those markets?

Certifications without a fee: A. S.C. Small & Minority Business Contracting and Certification B. S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) C. Small Business Administration (SBA) certification categories: • 8(a) • HUB zone • Woman-Owned (depending on the North American Industry Classification System [NAICS] criteria) D. Veterans Affairs (VA) categories: • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) • Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Each certificate program correlates to a specific opportunity. For example, the SBA certification categories would be extremely beneficial if you intend to sell your goods or services to the federal government. The federal government has set-aside contracts where only certified companies are allowed to compete. This significantly reduces the total number of companies bidding on the work and drastically increases the chances a certified company would win. Having a certification could be the difference between winning or losing a new business opportunity. Both supplier diversity programs and certification programs should be viewed in the larger context of how you intend to diversify your current business mix. Several questions should be asked to see if expanding your current business into new markets would be beneficial.

• How long have you been targeting those same market segments? Understanding your current capabilities and being able to forecast is vitally important for a growing business. The United States government is the largest singular purchaser of goods and services in the world. The Small Business Administration estimates that over $500 billion in government contracts

are awarded each year. Supplier diversity programs and certifications may allow your business to enter this marketplace. However, the public sector operates differently when it comes to contracts, so it’s best to speak with a specialist to see if your company has the capabilities available to meet the government’s demands. Both the SBA and SBDC can assist you in the process, so reach out and see if these new opportunities will help diversify your business. Learn more: Small Business Association: sba.gov South Carolina SBDC: sbdc.com

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Accounting in the 21st Century It may be time to consider immersing yourself in the language of business By DAVID A. TAYLOR AND FREDERICK BAUS University Center of Greenville

Many individuals with aptitudes in numeracy and business disciplines may never consider a career in accounting. If you are one of those people, please reconsider. Accounting is the language of business, and it is at the heart of accurate, ethical business decision-making. Historically, private, public, and nonprofit organizations sought employees with broadly defined business skills. While this may still be true in smaller companies and in certain industries such as retail and hospitality, the vast percentage of business hires are now from specialized fields such as accounting, supply chain, finance, economics, and marketing. And the accounting field itself is not limited to audit and tax specialties, but also includes areas of consulting. Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP is a Top 20 certified public accounting firm headquartered in Charlotte with offices here in Greenville. Stacey Ford, DHG’s senior campus diversity recruiter, observes, “At DHG, you can align your passion for accounting with an industry niche that enables you to become a trusted advisor. The accounting industry is ever-evolving and with its evolution comes many great opportunities to explore business practices and offer insights that extend far beyond ledgers

Attention to Detail

and tax returns. It’s an exciting time to be in the profession.” Among the accounting job fields identified on the website accounting. com are government accounting, forensic accounting, corporate security and risk management, financial consulting, and accounting related to legal matters for law firms.

need to possess soft skills that directly relate to the role they play within the organization. Adaptability, organizational, problem-solving, and communication abilities are some of the soft skills required in the industry.” Further, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, “Employment of accountants is expected to grow 11 percent annually from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Globalization, a growing overall economy, and an increasingly complex tax and regulatory environment are expected to lead to strong demand for accountants and

Accounting is the language of business, and it is at the heart of accurate, ethical business decision-making.

In addition to identifying 23 sub-disciplines in accounting, the University Center of Greenville (UCG) webpage also provides links to articles that explore employment demand, growth potential, and compensation in accounting jobs. Goodcall.com quotes Nichole Wesson, a Los Angeles-based career coach, on requirements in accounting fields: “More than just math proficiency, accounting professionals

auditors.” It is especially important, in looking at an accounting career, to consider professional certification beyond accounting degrees at the baccalaureate and master’s levels. The Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) credential is particularly valuable for both job placement and career advancement. According to the National Association of State Boards of Accounting

(NASBA), entry-level CPAs can earn 5 to 15 percent more than non-credentialed accounting professionals and have opportunities to work in CPA firms offering a path to partnership or progress into greater leadership roles in industry. The BLS also reports median pay for all accounting positions at $67,190 (2016 figures), with senior accounting positions, including accounting partners and CFOs, reaching into six figures. How do you get into accounting? The UCG has launched a set of webpages dedicated to career fields that offer significant job placement and advancement opportunities in the Upstate. Accounting is one of those career pages (greenville.org/accounting), and it reveals a breadth of career opportunities that may surprise you. Not only will you find 23 employable sub-disciplines under accounting but also you will also find information on accounting degrees offered at UCG by Anderson University and Furman University — two of UCG’s five member universities. They include baccalaureate and master’s degree concentrations as well as certifications in accounting specialties. These accounting programs are ideal for individuals with some college credit but no degree or for those on a business transfer path at a twoyear college. Special thank you to Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP for reviewing and contributing to this article.

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The Angel Investing Trifecta Making money, having fun, and doing good are the hallmarks of investing in early-stage ventures

By MATT DUNBAR Managing Director, UCAN

Make money. Have fun. Do good. Who wouldn’t like to do all three of those things? At once? While we can’t guarantee the outcomes, we certainly work as hard as we can to hit that trifecta as part of our efforts at the Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN). Last week we had two opportunities to do something we probably don’t do as often as we should: go back to basics and tell our story about good, fun, and money. We were honored to be invited to give an update to the Greater Greenville Forum on Monday, and we were delighted to host our first-ever Open House event on Wednesday at the Commerce Club. At both events, we provided an overview of our approach to angel investing and a reminder that there’s always an open invitation for new investors to join us. So if we missed you at one of those events, here’s a quick recap of the three essential elements of our story.

MAKE MONEY Angel investors are individuals who invest their own capital in risky early-stage ventures (unlike venture capitalists who raise funds from institutions like pension funds and endowments). It turns out that investing in startups is very risky business, and the hard truth is that most startups fail. Given the risks — and the fallout of the dot-com bust — individual angels began to realize the benefits of leveraging their collective reach and insights to make better investments together in groups rather than as solo acts. They learned the critical value of discipline, diversification, diligence, and patience in creating favorable odds for generating positive returns on their startup investments. UCAN was formed in 2008 to provide local investors the necessary infrastructure to build a diversified portfolio of early-stage investments in

our region while leveraging the insights and expertise of a network of local peers. Today, UCAN is part of VentureSouth, a collection of a dozen angel groups and funds across the Carolinas that leverage the power of more than 200 investors and a robust evaluation process to efficiently and effectively deploy early-stage capital. With the structure and discipline of our process, we believe our portfolio is on track to meet the benchmark returns from three separate angel investor returns studies over the last decade that have shown consistent rates of return exceeding 20 percent for angels in groups. Thus far, our failure rate is far below the 50 percent benchmark rate, 80 percent of our capital is still actively deployed, we’ve generated annualized gains of 60 percent on 11 realized investments, and we anticipate additional returns in the next 12 months as companies in our portfolio mature and exit to public markets or strategic buyers. We can make no guarantees of course, and the risks are indeed high (and therefore angel investing should be a small part of an overall portfolio), but the financial rewards can be worth it.

HAVE FUN Our investors come from a wide array of backgrounds, and they bring unique insights and expertise to the evaluation of each company we review. And of course the entrepreneurs we meet with bring a never-ending stream of new ideas and talent and technologies and energy. When we get the investors and entrepreneurs in the same room, the dialog and debate and learning are insightful and invigorating – worth the price of admission according to many of our investors. Unlike most public company investments, angel investors can enjoy personally sharing their experiences and battle scars with entrepreneurs and management teams, giving them the opportunity to have a direct impact on the company’s direction and success.

Angel investing is a hands-on contact sport and our investors enjoy having a front-row seat for the startup’s journey. Angel investing is a hands-on contact sport, and our investors enjoy having a front-row seat for the startup’s journey (not to mention our periodic investor education and social events).

DO GOOD If we want long-term economic growth in our state, we must create opportunities for entrepreneurs and their teams to thrive here creating the companies and jobs of the future. In our part of the world, early-stage capital is exceedingly scarce, so our investors are doing a great good for our longterm economic future by making risky bets on startups. Beyond that, many of the companies

we support are working on solving problems that can literally change the world: novel cancer therapies (CharlestonPharma) and diagnostics (KIYATEC); improved educational and health outcomes (ActivEd) and cleaner, quieter, more efficient mass transit (Proterra); smart, in-home medication dispensers (PharmRight) and the connectivity and interfaces to connect them (Zipit Wireless) and to connect teams (TipHive). There’s a lot more to our story, of course, and we’d love to share it with you if we missed you at our events. To learn more about how you can make money, have fun, and do good, visit us at venturesouth.vc/ucan.

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Open to ages 1 (walking) thru 17 – Free for Adults $4 per child – Family Rate (up to 5 kids) $12 Veteran & Active Duty Military – 1 FREE ADMISSION Purple Heart Recipients – 3 FREE ADMISSION (with proof of service or Purple Heart) Chance to win 1 of 3 larger prizes (per age group) – Over $500 in prizes

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Joined SVN BlackStream as an associate adviser specializing in retail. Originally from South Africa, Bizinos graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2015 with a B.A. in business management and a minor in human resources. She went on to obtain a Master of Business Administration. In spring 2015, she was named “Outstanding Management Graduate in CCBA.”

Awarded the 2016 Jeter E. Rhodes Jr. Trial Lawyer of the Year Award at the South Carolina American Board of Trial Advocates’ annual meeting and black-tie dinner. Mabry, a Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd shareholder, is based in the firm’s Greenville office. He is widely respected for his skilled management of complex litigation work and has been instrumental in a number of high-profile cases during his career.

Received the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Senior-Level Healthcare Executive Regent’s Award. Taylor-Smith, vice president of patient care services, chief nursing officer, and chief experience officer for Greenville Health System, was honored based on her exemplary career as a health care executive, her contributions to the development of health care leaders, and her ability to build positive relationships with nurses, physicians, and support staff.

Joined The Reserve at Lake Keowee as its full-time director of tennis to support the club’s growing tennis program. Lissner has extensive experience in managing high-profile tennis programs, mentoring young aspiring players, and working with league play and interclub programs. He will be offering complimentary weekly clinics for Lake Keowee’s members as well as be available for private lessons.

Joined BlackStream LLC as a social media specialist. Elliott’s social media career first began in the entertainment industry, where she worked for a boutique international film industry and a music promotion company located in Alabama. She spent several years promoting local artists and venues in Birmingham and surrounding areas. Elliot graduated from Auburn University in 2016 with degrees in public relations and creative writing.

VIP A. ALAN TURFE The board of directors of J M Smith Corporation recently named A. Alan Turfe as the new CEO and chairman of the board following the retirement of long-time chairman and CEO William R. Cobb. Turfe was selected by the board following a nationwide search and brings a wealth of experience in the life science, medical device, e-commerce, and automotive industries. In his role as CFO for GM, he led the company into e-commerce with a joint venture that generated more than $4 billion in shareholder value and resulted in his being appointed CO-CEO of the joint venture company. Following a decade with GM, Turfe held leadership roles with Fisher Scientific and IDEX Corporation in which he oversaw sites in the U.S. and overseas, with full profit and loss responsibilities, growing these businesses through strategic acquisitions and new product development. Turfe joins J M Smith Corporation from Fresenius Medical Care, where he served as senior vice president and chief procurement officer.

TECHNOLOGY CRN, a brand of The Channel Company, recently named five SYNNEX executives to its prestigious list of 2017 Channel Chiefs: Eddie Franklin, vice president, sales, public sector and vertical markets; Steve Jow, senior vice president, sales; Tommy Plumer, vice president, Pro AV sales; Bob Stegner, senior vice president, marketing, North America; and Dave Strickland, vice president, commercial sales. The executives on this annual list represent top leaders in the IT channel who excel at driving growth and revenue in their organizations through channel partners. 20

UBJ | 4.14.2017

RESTAURANTS Tucanos Brazilian Grill recently introduced John Ramm as the general manager in their new Magnolia Point restaurant. With over 35 years of restaurant management experience, Ramm brings extensive restaurant industry experience to the Tucanos leadership team. He has played a key role in creating and implementing multiple made-from-scratch menus and has developed multiple restaurant operations and training systems.

APPAREL Lifestyle apparel brand Southern Tide continues to evolve and expand their reach with the announcement of two new key hires: Craig O’Brien as creative director, and Jessica Zaro as director of women’s design. O’Brien has extensive U.S. and international experience in brand development. He is extremely passionate about growing small to mid-size brands and is skilled in all facets of product development, sourcing, and design. Zaro comes to Southern Tide with 14 years of experience in the design and retail space having previously held design positions with Lilly Pulitzer, Shoshanna, and Tori Richard. Zaro looks to bring a sense of effortless Southern style to the market space.

NONPROFITS Hollingsworth Funds, a community-wide funder for Greenville County, recently appointed Anthony W. “Tony” McDade and Samuel L. “Sam” Erwin to the Hollingsworth Funds board of directors. Executive director for United Ministries, McDade will add a keen perspective to the Funds’ philanthropic investments in multi-stakeholder initiatives aimed at increasing the economic mobility of low-wealth individuals. Erwin, a seasoned Upstate banking executive and current regional president for IberiaBank, will leverage his experience to maximize the impact of the Funds’ financial investments. CONTRIBUTE: New hires, promotions, & award winners may be featured in On the Move. Send information and photos to onthemove@upstatebusinessjournal.com.


Open for business 1. Tropical Smoothie CafĂŠ is now open at 2815 Woodruff Road. Learn more at tropicalsmoothiecafe.com.




2. The Salvation Army Family Store recently reopened at 203 Rutherford St. following renovations. Learn more at salvationarmy.org. 3. Duke Brands recently celebrated their centennial anniversary and their return to downtown Greenville at Falls Park Place. Learn more at dukefp.com.

Photo provided

Photo provided


CONTRIBUTE: Know of a business opening soon? Email information to aturner@communityjournals.com. Photo provided

50 5

Celebrating Celebrating 4.14.2017



23 21



THE WATERCOOLER Social Chatter RE: KUKA JUICE TO MOVE FROM FALLS PARK TO VILLAGE OF WEST GREENVILLE “Our friends at Kuka Juice are moving next door to Textile Hall! Going to be a great addition to our block!”

Textile Hall “Another addition to the Village of West Greenville”

Michael Badeaux’s Engineering Upstate Real Estate

RE: MARION CRAWFORD’S BIG ADVENTURE “I taught her son. One of the nicest ladies and families I have ever had the privilege to know. Doesn’t surprise me that she is as successful as she is. You are in good hands if she is helping you!”

Frank Kucinic “Loved reading this about Marion and her many talents.”

Kathryn Hartness Norwood

“Great article, Marion! We miss seeing you all.”

Doug Stambaugh “This is my favorite story of the year so far! Love it.”

Scott Becker


Chris Power

“What a great post! You guys are terrific! Bravo to Marion.”

Jennifer Lawrence Gabriel “What a woman! William, I know you are so proud of your wife! Very inspirational! Your entire family is so talented.”

Patty Lane

RE: AIRPORT COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL NORTH AMERICA HOLDS ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN GREENVILLE “We were so excited to be in Greenville. Thanks for the warm hospitality!”

RE: DUKE BRANDS RETURNS TO DOWNTOWN GREENVILLE “Oh I miss this place. The sandwiches were so good! Charlotte has nothing like this.”

Todd Hicks “So excited for my friends Andrew and Julie Smart.”

Blaine Elizabeth Alexander “Congratulations to Duke Brands and Bill Donohue! Proud to work with you guys on the videos.”

Will Stewart

Airports Council International - North America

E 14


VOL. 6 ISSU 2017 |


TOP 5:

The layout of print meets the convenience of the Web. Flip through the digital editions of any of our print issues, and see them all in one place. upstatebusinessjournal.com/past-issues

1. Duke Brands returns to downtown Greenville

2. Marion Crawford’s Big Adventure






e ventur d A g i B

rd’s Craw fo Marion

3. Six redevelopment plans submitted for County Square

rategy ford St e at Craw Upstat The team ts beyond the sigh its ts se




GET THE INBOX 4. A Volvo plant under construction in the Lowcountry is creating jobs in the Upstate

CONNECT We’re great at networking.

5. New office building planned at 122 Westfield St.

*The top 5 stories from the past week ranked by shareability score


UBJ | 4.14.2017

Follow up on the Upstate’s workweek. The Inbox – our weekly rundown of the top 10 local biz stories you need to know. upstatebusinessjournal.com/email




Style & substance are not mutually exclusive. Order a year of UBJ in no time, and we’ll deliver every week.










Basic Small Business Start-Up

Tyger River Campus, Room 354A 1875 E. Main St., Duncan 6–8 p.m.

Cost: Free


Conversation With Rich Wong, general partner with Accel Ventures

Clemson at ONE 1 N. Main St., fifth floor 4:30–7:30 p.m.

To register: Contact info@nextsc.org

Basic Small Business Start-Up

Tri-County Technical College, Pendleton Campus 7900 US-76, Pendleton 5:30–8:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Basic Small Business Start-Up

Laurens County Chamber of Commerce 4291 Professional Park Road, Clinton | 5:30–7:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Friday Forum featuring Sheriff Will Lewis

Greenville Hilton 45 W. Orchard Park Drive 8–9:30 a.m.

Cost: $15/members; $25/nonmembers For more info: 864-239-3728, tjames@greenvillechamber.org

Clemson University's Men of Color Summit: Tickets available now

TD Convention Center 1 Exposition Drive 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Cost: $329 (thru 4/15) For more info: clemson.edu/ inclusion/summit, menofcolorsummit@clemson.edu

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CONTRIBUTING WRITER Sherry Jackson, Melinda Young

MARKETING & ADVERTISING SALES REPRESENTATIVES Nicole Greer, Donna Johnston, Annie Langston, Lindsay Oehmen, Rosie Peck, Caroline Spivey, Emily Yepes


LAYOUT Bo Leslie | Tammy Smith


4/20 Thursday

4/20 Friday

4/21 Thursday-Friday

4/27-4/28 Saturday

4/29 UP NEXT


APRIL 28 CRE QUARTERLY ISSUE The state of commercial real estate in the Upstate.

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

UBJ milestone

jackson Marketing Group’s 25 Years


Chairman larry Jackson, Jackson marketing Group. Photos by Greg Beckner / Staff

Jackson Marketing Group celebrates 25 years

Kristy Adair | Michael Allen Anita Harley | Jane Rogers


By sherry Jackson | staff | sjackson@communityjournals.com

MAY 19 THE INTERNATIONAL ISSUE Upstate, meet the world. World, meet the Upstate.

HOW TO CONTRIBUTE STORY IDEAS: ideas@upstatebusinessjournal.com

EVENTS: events@upstatebusinessjournal.com


JUNE 2 THE BUSINESS OF FOOD Good eats mean good profits.

onthemove@upstatebusinessjournal.com UBJ welcomes expert commentary from business leaders on timely news topics related to their specialties. Guest columns run 700-800 words. Contact managing editor Jerry Salley at jsalley@communityjournals. com to submit an article for consideration. Circulation Audit by

Got any thoughts? Care to contribute? Let us know at ideas@upstatebusinessjournal.com.

1997 Jackson Dawson launches motorsports Division 1993

1990 Jackson Dawson

acquires therapon marketing Group and moves to Piedmont office Center on Villa.


UBJ milestone

1988 Jackson Dawson opens in Greenville at Downtown Airport


Solve. Serve. Grow. Those three words summarize Jackson Marketing Group’s guiding principles, and according to owner Larry Jackson, form the motivation that has kept the firm thriving for the past 25 years.

Jackson graduated from Bob Jones University with a degree in video and film production and started his 41-year career in the communications industry with the U.S. Army’s Public Information Office. He served during

Vietnam, where he said he was “luckily” stationed in the middle of Texas at Fort Hood. He left the service and went to work in public affairs and motorsports at Ford Motor Company in Detroit. After a stint at Bell and Howell, where he was responsible for managing Ford’s dealer marketing and training, the entrepreneurial bug hit and he co-founded Jackson-Dawson Marketing Communications, a company specializing in dealer training and product launches for the auto industry in 1980. In 1987, Jackson wanted to move back south and thought Greenville would be a good fit. An avid pilot, he

learned of an opportunity to purchase Cornerstone Aviation, a fixed base operation (FBO) that served as a service station for the Greenville Downtown Airport, providing fuel, maintenance and storage. In fact, when he started the Greenville office of what is now Jackson Marketing Group (JMG) in 1988, the offices were housed on the second floor in an airport hangar. “Clients would get distracted by the airplanes in the hangars and we’d have to corral them to get back upstairs to the meeting,” Jackson said. Jackson sold the FBO in 1993, but says it was a great way to get to know Greenville’s fathers and leaders


with a majority of them utilizing the general aviation airport as a “corporate gateway to the city.” In 1997, Jackson and his son, Darrell, launched Jackson Motorsports Group. The new division was designed to sell race tires and go to racetracks to sell and mount the tires. Darrell Jackson now serves as president of the motorsports group and Larry Jackson has two other children and a son-in-law who work there. Jackson said all his children started at the bottom and “earned their way up.” Jackson kept the Jackson-Dawson branches in Detroit and others in Los Angeles and New York until he sold his portion of that partnership in 2009 as part of his estate planning. The company now operates a small office in Charlotte, but its main headquarters are in Greenville in a large office space off Woodruff Road, complete with a vision gallery that displays local artwork and an auditorium Jackson makes available for non-profit use. The Motorsports Group is housed in an additional 26,000 square feet building just down the street, and the agency is currently looking for another 20,000 square feet. Jackson said JMG has expanded into other verticals such as financial, healthcare, manufacturing and pro-bono work, but still has a strong focus on the auto industry and transportation. It’s

2003 motorsports Division acquires an additional 26,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space

1998 1998 Jackson Dawson moves to task industrial Court

also one of the few marketing companies in South Carolina to handle all aspects of a project in-house, with four suites handling video production, copywriting, media and research and web design. Clients include heavyweights such as BMW, Bob Jones University, the Peace Center, Michelin and Sage Automotive. Recent projects have included an interactive mobile application for Milliken’s arboretum and 600-acre Spartanburg campus and a marketing campaign for the 2013 Big League World Series. “In my opinion, our greatest single achievement is the longevity of our client relationships,” said Darrell Jackson. “Our first client from back in 1988 is still a client today. I can count on one hand the number of clients who have gone elsewhere in the past decade.” Larry Jackson says his Christian faith and belief in service to others, coupled with business values rooted in solving clients’ problems, have kept

2009 Jackson Dawson changes name to Jackson marketing Group when larry sells his partnership in Detroit and lA 2003

2009-2012 Jackson marketing Group named a top BtoB agency by BtoB magazine 4 years running

him going and growing his business over the years. He is passionate about giving back and outreach to non-prof non-profits. The company was recently awarded the Community Foundation Spirit Award. The company reaffirmed its commitment to serving the community last week by celebrating its 25th anniversary with a birthday party and a 25-hour Serve-A-Thon partnership with Hands on Greenville and Habitat for Humanity. JMG’s 103 full-time employees worked in shifts around the clock on October 22 and 23 to help construct a house for a deserving family. As Jackson inches towards retirement, he says he hasn’t quite figured out his succession plan yet, but sees the companies staying under the same umbrella. He wants to continue to strategically grow the business. “From the beginning, my father has taught me that this business is all about our people – both our clients and our associates,” said his son, Darrell. “We have created a focus and a culture that strives to solve problems, serve people and grow careers.” Darrell Jackson said he wants to “continue helping lead a culture where we solve, serve and grow. If we are successful, we will continue to grow towards our ultimate goal of becoming the leading integrated marketing communications brand in the Southeast.”

2011 Jackson marketing Group/Jackson motorsports Group employee base reaches 100 people

2008 2012 Jackson marketing Group recognized by Community Foundation with Creative spirit Award

pro-bono/non-proFit / Clients lients American Red Cross of Western Carolinas Metropolitan Arts Council Artisphere Big League World Series The Wilds Advance SC South Carolina Charities, Inc. Aloft Hidden Treasure Christian School

CoMMUnitY nit inVolVeMent nitY in olV inV olVe VeMent & boarD positions lArry JACkson (ChAirmAn): Bob Jones University Board chairman, The Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center board member, Gospel Fellowship Association board member, Past Greenville Area Development Corporation board member, Past Chamber of Commerce Headquarters Recruiting Committee member, Past Greenville Tech Foundation board member David Jones (Vice President Client services, Chief marketing officer): Hands on Greenville board chairman mike Zeller (Vice President, Brand marketing): Artisphere Board,

Metropolitan Arts Council Board, American Red Cross Board, Greenville Tech Foundation Board, South Carolina Chamber Board

eric Jackson (Jackson motorsports Group sales specialist): Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club Advisory Board

November 1, 2013 Upstate bUsiness joUrnal 21

20 Upstate bUsiness joUrnal November 1, 2013


NOVEMBER 1, 2013

Order a reprint today, PDFs available for $25. For more information, contact Anita Harley 864.679.1205 or aharley@communityjournals.com

EVENTS: Submit event information for consideration to events@ upstatebusiness journal.com

Copyright ©2017 BY COMMUNITY JOURNALS LLC. All rights reserved. Upstate Business Journal is published weekly by Community Journals LLC. 581 Perry Ave., Greenville, South Carolina, 29611. Upstate Business Journal is a free publication. Annual subscriptions (52 issues) can be purchased for $50. Postmaster: Send address changes to Upstate Business, P581 Perry Ave., Greenville, South Carolina, 29611. Printed in the USA.

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